Self-Advocacy Association
of New York State, Inc.

Legislative Platform--January 2001 People Centered Priorities

Note: The following platform was adopted by the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State at the December 15, 2000 Board meeting. We encourage you to share a copy of this platform with your legislators and anyone interested in SA's point of view about the Year 2001 Budget and Legislative priorities. As we did last year, entitled this platform, People Centered Priorities, because we feel the budget and legislative process for people with developmental and other disabilities should focus on the priorities related to our goals and our needs. While there are many issues we could choose for a platform, we have made the following five our priorities for the current year.

1. Continue to fund NYS Cares but focus on individualized supports and self-determination

We continue to support Governor Pataki's NYS CARES initiative. However, we feel that individualized services and opportunities for self-determination should be readily available to people on waiting lists. We do not support the development of Individual Residential Alternatives (IRA) unless a home is truly developed at the request of the individuals and their families. We favor residential and work opportunities that maximize a person's control of the resources available to them and the choice of supports.

With all of the above in mind, we believe that all opportunities for support, either through traditional services such as IRAs or through individualized supports such as self-determination include an individualized and portable budget. With an individual budget, choice and freedom will be guaranteed. This is what we feel is a People Centered Priority.

2. Transportation

When we talk to our peers around the state and ask them what issues are the most important to them, transportation is always at the top of the list. We think it is time to put some real emphasis on this problem. People can not participate fully in their communities if they can't get to community functions and activities.

We recommend that the Legislature provide funding to support a collaborative task force initiative to study national and innovative, rural and urban transportation solutions and make recommendations for problem solving in NY State. This should not just be a study that sits on the shelf but one that makes serious recommendations to provide creative solutions to an ongoing and huge concern for so many New York citizens with disabilities.

3. Recognize the importance of Direct Support staff and raise their salaries significantly

We appreciate what has been done so far in the budget process to begin to address concerns regarding direct support staff. But it is not enough. For many of us, these are the most important people in our lives. The pay that support people receive is really unacceptable. We are really worried about staff turnover and the quality of staff in some agencies who support us. Staff vacancies and turnover mean that we can't get to the places we need to go to like self-advocacy meetings and community events or that we can't get the help we need to do some of the things that are important to us.

The problem with direct support staff in our State is at crisis stage and something significant has to be done about it. We believe direct support staff who work for provider agencies need a substantial increase in this year's budget.

4. New York State Most Integrated Setting Plan

We are excited about some Federal support for the individualized services that we mentioned above. This support has come through an ADA based decision by the US Supreme Court's in the Olmstead Case as well as other national initiatives. We support legislative efforts that will result in a plan for New York State to insure that all people with disabilities live in the most integrated setting possible. To us, unless a person chooses to live in traditional group setting, we believe the most integrated setting is one where a person lives in their own home, in their own community with people they want to live with and the supports they choose.

5. Medicaid Buy-In

We strongly support the Medicaid Buy-In. We feel that people with disabilities should not have to choose between working and having health insurance. The Medicaid Buy-In Bill gives people a chance to keep their health coverage by buying into their Medicaid benefits, which many people need for important supports like home health aides and medication. People with disabilities want to be tax paying citizens. The Medicaid Buy-In is an important bill that supports our right to work and be well. Work and Wellness--Pass it now!