New York State (NYS) is facing huge budget deficits, especially in Medicaid, which funds many STIC programs, and supports a large number of people with disabilities we serve. This year, the Governor and the Department of Health (DOH) decided to cut the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance (CDPA) program (the least expensive personal care program) to save $150 million in Medicaid. CDPA allows eligible people with disabilities to hire, train, schedule and dismiss their own Personal Assistants, including neighbors, friends, some family members, or others with whom they feel comfortable to perform tasks such as eating, bathing and using the toilet.
STIC would have lost a half million dollars under DOH’s proposal, forcing us to make major cuts in the program, greatly limiting our ability to support consumers, and to comply with laws and regulations. We tried to negotiate with DOH, but they refused to respond to us. Action had to be taken to stop these cuts.
STIC joined others to sue DOH, and we won. Out of the 600 providers of CDPA statewide, only 12 agencies were willing to take the risk to sue, and we were one of the leaders. Others wouldn’t join us for fear of retaliation. STIC certainly has these fears, but there comes a time when one must stand up and be counted, not only for the money but also more importantly, for the larger issue, that DOH was destroying a program that was needed by consumers, and was favored by many independent and self-directing people with disabilities of all ages. If the program had to absorb the cuts, many people would have been forced into more expensive programs up to and possibly including nursing homes (the most costly in terms of money, independence and dignity).
More cuts are coming; you can bank on it. We will be fighting for them to be fair, even-handed, and not to single out only one program to carry the burden. STIC will continue to stand firm to defend the rights, independence, and choices of people with disabilities, even if it means that we may be the targets of some kind of retaliation. We can only hope that won’t happen.
Eight-year-old Kevin is pictured in this letter. He is just one of the hundreds of people in STIC’s CDPA program whose services were and may still be at risk.
STIC needs money to fight on. We aren’t allowed to use any state or federal dollars for lobbying lawmakers or for legal actions. It must come out of private donations, fundraising, or other non-government funds.
I’m making a personal appeal to you to help support our advocacy, so that we can continue to protect the programs that people depend on, and to defend the civil and economic rights of children and adults with disabilities.
Help us make a difference! You can contribute online at www.stic-cil.org. You’ll have the thanks of our consumers, staff and board of directors, and the knowledge that you helped to fight the injustices facing people with disabilities.