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Down to the Bone

Organizations that rely on state and federal funding fear that the budget cuts just won’t stop

by Erin Pihlaja on December 5, 2013

On Tuesday (Nov. 26) the Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State released the results of a survey that was conducted among organizations affiliated with the association.

CP of NYS is multi-service organization with offices in Albany and throughout New York City. They provide services to people with disabilities and support for the famillies of those individuals. There are 26 affiliates and 18,000 employees in the CP of NYS network, and the survey was conducted to gather information on what impact more possible cuts to funding for the Office for Persons with Developmental Disabilities could have.

Slashes to the OPWDD’s budget were made to compnesate a finding by a congressional committee that New York had overbilled the federal government for Medicaid services by $15 billion over two decades. Over one billion dollars in federal aid was slashed to make up for the oversight. In October, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that restored $90 million in cuts to the office’s budget that had been removed.

“For the past four years there have been cuts,” said Alan Shibley, vice president of communications for CP of NYS. “We’re hoping to prevent any future cuts.”

The survey revealed that 81.6 percent of respondents strongly agreed and 13.9 percent somewhat agreed “that New Yorkers with developmental risk losing access to the basic services they need to live independent lives in their communities” if cuts are made that are similar to those that have happened since 2009.

It also indicated that 84 percent of respondents indicated that “the cuts in state funding have forced them to eliminate programs or reduce the scope of services since 2009.”

“We are concerned that with future cuts, along with other cuts, it will make it impossible for New York to deliver on that promise to take care of people with disabilities in New York state,” Shibley said.

“The state Constitution makes clear New York’s obligation to care for those who cannot care for themselves. The obligation was reaffirmed in the aftermath of the closure of Willowbrook when New York made an explicit promise to educate, serve, and support New Yorkers with developmental disabilities,” said Susan Constantino, president and CEO of CP of NYS, in a prepared statement.

Cuts result in decreased services, longer waits, and services that are not at the same level, said Shibley.

Local CP of NYS affiliates include Albany’s Center for Disabilities Services, which serves 10 counties in and around the Capital Region; and Prospect Center in Queensbury which serves four of its surrounding counties.