Proposed cuts to the Medicaid-funded Consumer Directed Personal Assistance program (CDPAP), which enables the elderly and disabled to be cared for in their homes with the caretakers of their choosing, would result in lost wages statewide, according to a survey conducted by the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Association of New York State (CDPAANYS).

The survey polled approximately one-fifth of fiscal intermediaries that would be impacted by the an overhaul of the program proposed in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget. The data indicates that the impact of $75 million in cuts would exceed $500 million in lost wages, according to CDPAANYS.

The proposal to consolidate hundreds of fiscal intermediaries – non-profit organizations that are authorized to register, train, and process payments for caretakers, who are frequently family members of consumers – has caused alarm for families dependent on these services.

Cuomo’s offices says that budget cuts are specifically targeted at intermediaries, not consumers or caretakers, known as “personal assistants.”

Bill Hammond, director of health policy at the Empire Center for Public Policy, said that the state has legitimate reasons for improving the way the home-care program is run and reeling in its fiscal intermediaries.

“Hundreds of these organizations have popped up in the last few years,” Hammond told the Times Union earlier this month. “That indicates that the program is a money-making opportunity.”

CDPAANYS estimates that the cuts would endanger the ability of 70,000 seniors and disabled New Yorkers to receive these services in their communities and threaten the jobs of more than 100,000 personal assistants.

The advocacy group says it spoke with one-fifth of the fiscal intermediaries (FIs) in its membership in each of the state Senate and Assembly districts throughout the state.

The group speculates that more than 13,000 consumers would be left without a means to properly receive their care, and approximately 20,000 personal assistants would be out of work.

And while both state Senate and Assembly members showed support for the program in their respective one-house budget bills, its future is uncertain.

“This has become a life and death situation for the tens of thousands of New Yorker who receive services through this program,” said Bryan O’Malley, executive director of CDPAANYS. “As we get closer to April 1 budget deadline, these consumers and their families need to know that their livelihoods will be protected, and they will be able to continue to receive the care they need in the manner they need it.”

The consolidation is intended to increase oversight and accountability in the program which is sometimes abused, according to the governor’s office. Last year, the CDPAP program was the subject of an audit by the state Inspector General, which found that that the state may have been overpaid about $75 billion in Medicaid disbursements associated with the program.

© 2019 Times Union

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The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.