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State Legislature blocking bill worth up to $350M

June 16, 2014

ALBANY | Political gridlock in Albany is jeopardizing a proposal that would help thousands of individuals with disabilities remain in their homes and could generate as much as $350 million annually for the state.

The proposal by Gov. Andrew Cuomo would create a new category of home-care worker called “advanced home health aides.” These aides (AHHA) would be authorized to perform certain nursing tasks, based on recommendations from a workgroup established by the new law.

Currently, home-care workers can’t even provide a consumer with ibuprofen without breaking the law, an obstacle that advocates say prevents more people from being able to live in their own homes. Often times, the alternative is individuals being forced into costly institutions.

Additionally, the proposal could generate as much as $350 million annually for the state. Under a new federal program known as the Community First Choice Option (CFCO), the creation of the AHHA would increase the federal portion of the state’s Medicaid spending on CFCO-related services from 50 percent to 56 percent.

“The proposal is socially important and fiscally responsible,” said John Zick, the director of government and public affairs at AIM Independent Living Center, a Corning-based nonprofit agency that provides services to people with disabilities. “Right now, Albany is showing its old colors – ones that got it labeled the most dysfunctional state government in the country. It’s time for the Legislature to end the political stalemate and negotiate in good faith.”

The state Assembly, which challenged the CFCO for months, has entered into negotiations on the proposal and has committed to passing the legislation this year. The Senate, which supported CFCO implementation during budget negotiations, has not indicated it will act on the proposal before the end of the legislative session.

In addition to dozens of disability advocacy groups, the governor’s proposal is supported by: SEIU 1199, the New York State Nurses Association, PHI, the Alzheimer’s Association, AARP, the UJA Federation, the Direct Care Alliance, JASA, and Jewish Home Life Care.