A bill to restore $90 million in funding for services for people who are developmentally disabled was passed by the New York state legislature and signed into law by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
The bill was sponsored by Assemb. Harvey Weisenberg, Democrat of Long Beach and Sen. Martin Golden, Democrat of Brooklyn. The legislation was in response to Gov. Cuomo’s 2013-14 budget proposal, which called for the cuts to the state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.
Gov. Cuomo said that the cuts were enacted after the federal government cut $1.1 billion in funding to New York. The state owes the federal government approximately $3 billion for overcharging Medicaid for a period of decades.
In addition to restoring the funding, the law calls for a working group to investigate how programs for the developmentally disabled can be made more efficient in order to save $90 million in spending without impacting programs for disabled people.
Gov. Cuomo said the legislation was another step in improving services for disabled people in New York and that the state was committed to upholding the strongest standards in the country to protect vulnerable people. Assemb. Weisenberg thanked Gov. Cuomo for restoring the funding.
Advocates for developmentally disabled people applauded the new law, saying that the funding was crucial to providing needed services for disabled citizens.
The Office for People with Developmental Disabilities coordinates services for about 126,000 people with developmental disabilities, including cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, Down syndrome, and other neurological disabilities. The agency provides services directly and through about 700 nonprofit agencies.
Services that the agency provides include Medicaid-funded long-term care services and residential support services. In the decades since the agency was founded in 1978, the way services are provided has shifted from institutional settings to community settings. Because of the need for intensive treatment, approximately 1,200 developmentally disabled people in the state continue to receive treatment in an institutional setting, down from about 30,000 in the 1970s.
In addition to Medicaid services, the agency provides family support services which are designed to help families with care for their loved ones with special needs who live at home. The agency also provides employment support to help developmentally disabled people with job coaching and vocational training.