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Cuomo Budget Eliminates Program That Allows Disabled Medicaid Recipients To Manage Their Aides

SYRACUSE, NY, (WRVO) - Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget will change the way the disabled individuals on Medicaid manage their aides, which has disabled advocates upset.

The Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program, also known as CDPA, lets New Yorkers who qualify for Medicaid benefits hire their own aides and manage their schedule. Sally Johnston, president of Disabled in Action of Greater Syracuse, said it has been an important way to keep disabled individuals independent.

“They’re able to say, ‘These are the things that need to be done in my home, and these are the things that need to be done to my body,’” Johnston said. “It’s a very intimate situation when you have to be bathed, dressed and so on.”

The governor’s budget would eliminate CDPA programs that started after 2012 and replace it with a stripped-down version with only one of the 10 so-called Fiscal Intermediaries that currently that run the service. The state has concerns about waste and fraud, and Johnston said there has been criticism because people can hire family members as aides. But she said those issues can be solved with oversight. Johnston said she will be among advocates asking the state to keep the program alive.

“I don’t understand where the governor is coming from,” she said. “This saves money. And you want to destroy it? And what would happen is a lot of people would end up in nursing homes at a greater Medicaid expense.”

Johnston said having the power to choose aides and set their hours has been especially helpful for immigrants.

“They can hire people of their own culture that understand them, that fix the food they want, that know the traditions that are important to them, so I think this is a wonderful program,” she said. “The governor, somehow, doesn’t see it that way.”

In addition, advocates for the disabled are holding a news conference later this week to call on the state to increase pay for support professionals who work with the disabled.