Care providers, families fear hidden funding cuts for New Yorkers with developmental disabilities


ALBANY — Family members and service providers supporting some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers say a state agency is secretly slashing funds for New Yorkers with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Providers say the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities alerted them to a $93 million reduction in funding that is not included in Gov. Cuomo’s budget proposal, but instead presented as a potential “administrative action.”

The massive cut, coupled with last year’s $73 million, adds up to a staggering $166 million or 39% reduction, in less than 12 months, advocates argue.

In response to the proposal, the state’s seven regional Care Coordination Organizations, which help line up care for roughly 110,000 New Yorkers with intellectual and developmental disabilities, are banding together to oppose the cuts.

“To dismantle this program, a lifeline for vulnerable individuals with I/DD, especially during this pandemic, is discriminatory, unconscionable and frankly irresponsible on the part of OPWDD,” said James Moran, CEO of Care Design NY. “The empathy has gone out of OPWDD as the I/DD service system continues to erode and fail the population for which it was created to support.  When does the annual OPWDD funding assault at the expense of an already marginalized and vulnerable population end?” he asked.

The groups argue that the cuts will lead many of those in most need without access to a care manager, meaning people with disabilities won’t have anyone to assist them or their families in navigating various healthcare, disability and mental health services. Care managers also help those in the program with basic health needs such as food, housing, employment, and transportation.

Representatives for the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

While the governor’s overall budget relies heavily on federal aid coming into the state to help offset COVID-incurred losses of revenue, the CCOs say the state should use some the funds from Washington to ensure care management programs for individuals with disabilities continue.

“CCOs are currently mandated to provide integrated care coordination services to individuals with developmental disabilities,” noted Lewis Grossman, CEO of Advance Care Alliance of New York. “If OPWDD ultimately makes these cuts, the current integrated care coordination model cannot continue and the 110,000 people who rely on it will suffer because of it. Those with disabilities that we serve will not be able to attain the services that they rely on each day.”

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