NYAIL

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Press - Please contact Lindsay Miller, NYAIL's Executive Director: 518-465-4650 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 23, 2018

Contact: Pauline Barfield, Barfield Public Relations, 212-736-0404, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Disability Community Issues Report Card on the Budget, State Gets an F
Calls for Budget Process Reforms

(Albany, NY) - The disability community has issued a report card to New York State on the final Budget and concludes that the State has failed people with disabilities. This year marks five years since the release of the Governor’s Olmstead Plan, which outlined the State’s efforts to make sure people had the supports and services they need to live at home with their loved ones. But instead of advancing those efforts through the Budget, the State has turned back the clock on community integration by failing to fund vital programs like Independent Living Centers, Access to Home, and by enacting Medicaid changes which make it harder for people to leave institutions and live at home.

“Year after year the disability rights community makes common sense, inexpensive budget recommendations that would help to increase the independence and integration of New Yorkers with disabilities, requests that are minuscule in comparison to the billion-dollar investments being made into institutions and institutional providers through DSRIP.” said Lindsay Miller, Executive Director of the New York Association on Independent Living, “Yet once again we are not only completely ignored, but left with new policies in place that make it harder for people with disabilities to access long term care services and supports in the community.”

The disability community actively advocates for programs and policies that increase the independence of people with disabilities and in doing so, save the State money. “Independent Living advocates were responsible for the creation of the Community First Choice Option (CFCO) at the federal level, and we were the ones to urge New York to implement it. As a result, New York is currently drawing down approximately $365 million annually in additional funds from the Federal Government for services under CFCO, and it isn’t even fully implemented yet,” said Bruce Darling, national organizer with ADAPT. “Instead of investing the millions of savings toward ensuring people have the supports and services they need to live in the community and out of institutions, the State failed people with disabilities in this Budget by leaving home care workers underpaid and making it much harder for people to leave institutions and get back into the community.”

The disability community has been advocating for Governor Andrew Cuomo to reactivate the duties of the Office for the Advocate for People with Disabilities, originally created in 1983 by Governor Mario Cuomo. The State Assembly proposed funding for the Advocate, but this was also not included in the final Budget.

“Any historical disability advocacy was eliminated by removing all advocacy responsibility from the Justice Center last year,” said Lindsay Miller. “The disability community needs a voice in state government and reinstating the duties of the Office for the Advocate for People with Disabilities would have been a good first step.”

 

Budget Reforms

The disability community also calls on the State Legislature to reform the Budget review process by creating a Disability Budget Subcommittee with a distinct table target. The Legislative Houses have both repeatedly recommended increased funding in their One House Budgets for Independent Living Centers, home modifications, and other disability community priorities, but none of these recommendations have survived the final 3-way Budget negotiations.

“The likelihood of Budget success would be greatly increased if there was a table target set in advance of Budget negotiations for important disability issues”, said Susan Dooha, Executive Director of the Center for Independence of the Disabled, NY. “Our community has a broad range of priorities including advocacy services, healthcare, voting rights, transportation, accessible and affordable housing, and many others, and as a result we’ve been spread too thin across the existing Budget Subcommittee table targets and left behind due to limited resources and competing priorities.” 

“Equally important to the disability community is Executive Budget leadership. “If the Governor would propose additional needed funding in his Budget, there’s no question that it would be in the final Budget agreement”, said Lindsay Miller.  “Instead, the disability community feels that the Executive treats our issues as legislative member items, and not his responsibility.”

NYS Budget Impact on People with Disabilities

Disability Rights Community 2018 Legislative Report Card

The New York Association on Independent Living (NYAIL) is a statewide membership organization of Independent Living Centers (ILCs), community-based not-for-profit providers of advocacy, services and supports for New Yorkers with disabilities of all ages. ILCs are controlled by, and largely staffed by, people with disabilities. NYAIL strengthens local Independent Living Centers and is a leader in the civil rights movement for all people with disabilities.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 1, 2018
Contact: Lindsay Miller (518) 465-4650, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Disability Rights Community Calls on Congress to Extend Funding to Help People Leave Institutions and Move Back Home!
(Albany, NY): Money Follows the Person (MFP) was enacted in 2005 with strong bipartisan support and is one of the most successful Medicaid demonstrations. MFP was designed to help states transition people with disabilities from institutions into the community, and to increase access to home and community based services. Unfortunately, MFP expired September 30, 2016, and states are running out of funding.

“Money Follows the Person is the rare bipartisan policy solution that actually promotes community integration”, states Bruce Darling, President and CEO of the Center for Disability Rights in Rochester, NY and Board President of the National Council on Independent Living. “MFP has enabled more than 75,000 disabled people, from 47 states to get out of institutions and into their own homes in the community. Reauthorizing MFP is crucial to protecting the lives and liberty of disabled Americans.”

In New York, MFP funds the Open Doors Transition Center and Peer Outreach & Referral programs. Open Doors helps individuals living in nursing homes return to the community and assists individuals with developmental disabilities living in large group homes and institutions transition to smaller community settings or more integrated community programs. The New York Association on Independent Living (NYAIL) administers the Open Doors program via a contract with the Department of Health, partnering with its member Independent Living Centers to staff over 50 Transition Specialists and 100 peer advocates statewide.

“Thanks to the Open Doors program, over 1,800 people with disabilities and older adults have been able to get assistance to leave institutions and move back home,” stated Lindsay Miller, the Executive Director of the New York Association on Independent Living. “Without action on the part of Congress, funding for this important program will dry up, Miller stated.

Congress must work to save and adequately fund MFP. It can do this by including reauthorization of MFP in the negotiations on larger funding issues and by passing the EMPOWER Care Act (S. 2227) immediately.

“We know from federal Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services data that there are approximately 20,000 New Yorkers living in nursing facilities who have expressed an interest in returning to the community,” noted Miller. “Open Doors is the program responsible for reaching out to those individuals, providing them with objective information on the long-term services and supports that are available to them, and helping to facilitate their transition back to their community if that is their choice. We need Congress to save this critical program by passing the EMPOWER Care Act, or by including additional funding for MFP in the budget.”

The New York Association on Independent Living (NYAIL) is a statewide membership organization of Independent Living Centers (ILCs), community-based not-for-profit providers of advocacy, services and supports for New Yorkers with disabilities of all ages. ILCs are controlled by, and largely staffed by, people with disabilities. NYAIL strengthens local Independent Living Centers and is a leader in the civil rights movement for all people with disabilities.

October 24, 2017
Governor Cuomo Vetoes Bill that Would Help Seniors and People with Disabilities Live In the Community for the Third Year in a Row

Contact: Lindsay Miller (518) 465-4650, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Meghan Parker (518) 465-4650, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

(Albany, NY) - Governor Cuomo vetoed the Visitability Tax Credit bill (A.5950/S.2411) for the third year in a row, which would have helped seniors and people with disabilities to remain in their homes and out of nursing homes. The bill would have provided for a modest tax credit of up to $2,750 for seniors and people with disabilities to modify their homes to make them more accessible. In addition, it would have allowed people to access this credit when including accessible features at the time of construction.

“The lack of accessible housing is the biggest barrier for many people seeking to leave nursing homes. Very often, a ramp to the front door is the difference between a person being able to live safely in their homes or needing to go into a nursing facility” stated Lindsay Miller, Executive Director for the New York Association on Independent Living. “Advocates and sponsors worked in earnest to address concerns raised by the Administration previously, including scaling back the program significantly by capping it at $1 million per year. We are deeply disappointed the Administration decided to veto the bill yet again, rather than work with us to make whatever additional fixes were needed to implement the program and help people to stay in their own homes and maintain their independence,” added Miller.

The disability community has been advocating for this bill because home modifications can be prohibitively expensive, particularly for seniors and people with disabilities who have to rely on a fixed income. This tax credit would allow many New Yorkers to age in place and at the same time, help increase the stock of accessible housing by incentivizing the inclusion of accessible features at the time of construction.

In his veto memo, Cuomo asserts his support for accessible housing by pointing to the Access to Home program, a successful program which provides low income individuals and families home modifications to prevent unwanted institutionalization.

“It is ironic that Governor Cuomo points to Access to Home as proof of his support of accessible housing since it is currently severely underfunded” stated Meghan Parker, Director of Advocacy for the New York Association on Independent Living. “Funding for Access to Home was cut by 75% under this administration and they have failed to restore its funding despite vigorous advocacy from the disability community” added Parker.

“We are urging Governor Cuomo to include funding in the 2018 budget to address the dire need for funding for home modifications” stated Miller. “Governor Cuomo needs to include funding for programs like the Visitability Tax Credit and Access to Home so that people aren’t forced into nursing homes against their will.” added Miller.

The New York Association on Independent Living (NYAIL) is a statewide membership organization of Independent Living Centers (ILCs), community-based not-for-profit providers of advocacy, services and supports for New Yorkers with disabilities of all ages. ILCs are controlled by, and largely staffed by, people with disabilities. NYAIL strengthens local Independent Living Centers and is a leader in the civil rights movement for all people with disabilities.

 

June 22, 2017

June 22, 2017 was the 18th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court Olmstead decision, which asserted the rights of people with disabilities to live and receive services in the most integrated setting. It was also the day the Senate unveiled their health care plan, which would make devastating cuts to Medicaid - the program that enables millions of people with disabilities to live and receive services in the community.

ADAPT, a national grassroots organization which engages in direct action to fight for the rights of people with disabilities, received national attention yesterday when they held a die in in Senator Mitch McConnell’s office. Congratulations to ADAPT advocates for an impeccably well timed action! Coverage of their protest was all over both social media and made national news. Thanks to ADAPT for bringing national attention to the devastating impact the AHCA’s cuts to Medicaid will have on people with disabilities.

Capitol Police took 50 protesters into custody after some of them removed themselves from their wheelchairs as part of the "die-in" demonstration. See photos at http://www.businessinsider.com/disabled-people-die-in-protest-mitch-mcconnell-senate-republican-gop-health-care-bill-2017-6
and video at http://time.com/4829103/mitch-mcconnell-protest-senate-health-care-bill/.

MSNBC covered the story, running footage throughout the afternoon and into the prime time news shows. Rachael Maddow covered the protest in detail, including the history of ADAPT and the disability rights movement, watch the video here: http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow/watch/gop-threat-to-medicaid-threatens-liberty-of-millions-of-americans-974159427845

Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mitch-mcconnell-health-care-protest_us_594be412e4b0a3a837bdf1b7?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

Mother Jones: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/06/police-remove-disabled-protesters-outside-mitch-mcconnells-office/

There is much, much more coverage. Search for the hashtag #ADAPTandRESIST on Twitter for more coverage.

ADAPTers are expecting to face significant legal costs as a result of yesterday’s action. They are seeking donations to help cover their costs, as well as future legal fees associated with their incredibly important work. Please consider donating and share this with your networks!
https://www.gofundme.com/u2jc4-adapt 

March 7, 2017

Disability Advocates from Across the State Protest Governor Cuomo;
Charge He is “Turning the Clock Back” on Community Integration

(Albany, NY): Disability advocates from across the State gathered at the Capitol today to express their anger that Governor Cuomo has broken his promises to them once again – threatening the ability for people with disabilities to live independently.
The advocates charged Governor Cuomo is “turning the clock back” by failing to take action on key budget and policy pledges he had already made to people with disabilities.