By Alison Taylor, ATI Advocacy Intern
November 18, 2022
Now that election results across the state are in, it’s time to turn our advocacy efforts towards the New York State budget. Each year, the New York Association on Independent Living (NYAIL) works with the state’s independent living centers (ILCs) to determine what issues require funding. The highest priorities are included in a budget proposal to the governor’s office. It is important to advocate for funding so that 1.) State representatives know these issues exist, and 2.) ILCs receive money that will help provide better services to more people.
Here are this year’s Disability Budget Priorities:
- Increase base funding for ILCs to $18 million: ILCs provide valuable services to people with disabilities as well as employ and empower people with disabilities. The cost of providing these services is going up, and living centers require more funding to ensure that quality of care and daily operations are not negatively impacted. The pandemic also proved that better support systems need to be in place should another crisis arise.
- Increase wages for home care workers to 150% of the State’s minimum wage: Home care workers are often essential in the daily lives of people with disabilities, but stagnant wages have led to a worker shortage. The problem is so widespread that many people with disabilities are forced to remain in institutions (such as nursing homes) because they don’t have community supports at home.
- Repeal cuts to eligibility for Medicaid: The Medicaid Redesign Team submitted proposals to change Medicaid that would make certain people ineligible for community-based Long Term Supports and Services. These changes would eliminate Level 1 Home Care, introduce a discriminatory eligibility standard, and put people at risk for injury, institutionalization, and hospitalization.
- Expand eligibility for New York’s Medicaid Buy-In program: The Medicaid Buy-In program allows people with disabilities access to Medicaid in addition to working part or full time. However, there are limits to the assets someone can have, and people aged 65 years or older are not eligible. NYAIL is seeking to eliminate both restrictions so that more people with disabilities can choose work appointments more freely.
- Increase the State’s share of funding for the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program to $15 million: The Long-Term Care Ombudsman program operates on behalf of residents in long-term care facilities to advocate for their health, safety, and well-being. Unfortunately, facilities currently rely heavily on volunteers, which are increasingly hard to come by post-pandemic. More funding means more facilities could adopt and/or expand on this program to better serve their residents.
- Increase funding for Access to Home to $10 million: Access to Home is a program that provides environmental modifications to homes for people with disabilities. Without these modifications, many people are at risk for unsafe living conditions or institutionalization. Due to a 75% budget cut several years ago, the program is severely underfunded and needs a significant increase to be successful on a state-wide basis.
Click here to read the original budget priority request letter from NYAIL. As budget season draws closer, there will be opportunities to advocate on behalf of ATI. If you’d like to receive advocacy alerts, please click here!