Last week, I stood with Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski, nonprofit BRIDGES, advocates, and those with disabilities to stress the importance of fully funding the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP), as its fate hangs in the balance of budget negotiations.

CDPAP allows people with disabilities who qualify for Medicaid to manage their own care and live independently. However, with Governor Cuomo proposing $75 million in state cuts to the program, people who utilize it are “fearful” they will lose critical services. Through the program, people can select their own aids, manage their aids’ schedules, and decide their hours and pay.

The advocates and I gathered to say in one collective voice to Governor Cuomo that the CDPAP needs to be fully funded in the budget. This is about people’s livelihood and giving seniors and people with disabilities the right to manage their own care and live independently. Governor Cuomo though is taking that right away. His budget proposal also limits the number of agencies like Rockland’s BRIDGES, who can help people in the program with managing payroll, tax paperwork and workers compensation for their aids.

Carlos Martinez, the CEO of BRIDGES said, “CDPAP offers tens of thousands of New Yorkers and thousands here in Rockland choice, freedom and control over their life and their care. This is a program that keeps people in the community in the care of people they trust. We must invest more in this model of service than to rip it apart. We must do right by the people who use this program on a daily basis!”

Bryan O’Malley, the executive director of the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Association of New York State added, “More than 70,000 consumers of the CDPA program will have their services disrupted or discontinued and upwards of 100,000 of their personal assistants who provide care for them will lose their jobs due to a lack of understanding of the program by Governor Andrew Cuomo.”

With the program model in jeopardy, people in Rockland County who currently manage their own care are scared they may have to enter institutionalized care. CDPAP recipient, Ella Hill told me, “I am not able to walk at this time so I need to be placed in the bed at night. I need to be taken up in the night. I need to have food prepared for me. My children are thousands of miles away. I need CDPAP. I don’t want to go to an institution, where are my civil rights?”

Paula Southern whose daughter is disabled and receives CDPAP also shared
with me, “Being able to have a CDPAP, me as her parent and having my mother be her representative so I can be her caregiver is so much more helpful than trying to sustain a job with corporate. It is really a quality of care she could never get without myself.”

As Chairman of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee, it’s my responsibility to champion this cause, and I will continue to fight for CDPAP recipients.

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