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ARISE Urges Governor To Sign Integrated Services Bill

Submitted Article

OSWEGO, NY – ARISE Child and Family Service is urging Governor Paterson to sign the Integrated Services Bill (A.7277/S.7337) that recently passed unanimously both houses of the legislature during the 2008 Session.

The intent of the bill, initially introduced by Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito, (D/WF-Rome), and Senator Joseph Griffo (R, C, I-47) is to assure that individuals with disabilities have the right to choose and receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate for their needs, and are empowered to maximize their inclusion into society.

“Frequently, people with disabilities are forced into nursing homes because there are no other options available to them,” Destito said.  “My bill would change the emphasis from institution-based care to personalized, community-based care – enabling more people to live at home.”

“It’s been nearly a decade since the landmark 1999 U.S. Supreme Court – Olmstead decision and States are still fumbling around to achieve a balance between needs and rights,” said Senator Griffo. “If Governor Paterson agrees, then New York will be setting a standard in the preservation of a basic human right — the freedom of choice.” Griffo added, “While this bill made it through both legislative houses in a relatively short time, there were years of study, years of struggle, and determination in the face of desperation by those advocates who pushed this through. If this law goes through, then we need to recognize them.”

“As an agency that advocates strongly for persons with disabilities, ARISE is intimately familiar with the systems barriers that make it very challenging for people with significant disabilities to have jobs or to simply live on their own,” said Sabine Ingerson, director of the Oswego Office.

“We are confronted daily with the struggles that people with disabilities in our community face as they are trying to maintain their independence.  Due to the lack of community- based services including homecare and funding for home accessibility modifications for many people the only option left at this point is to go into a nursing home.  The cost of institutionalization is significantly more costly than community based services,” said Jim Cronk, IL representative at ARISE.  “We call on the governor to follow along with the state legislature and sign this vital piece of disability rights legislation.”

This legislation establishes once and for all the right of individual choice, and the presumption that integrated services will benefit every person and that all individuals can benefit from community-based living.

State agencies will have to identify all barriers to community-based living to prevent service delivery methods that segregate, and will have to report to the Governor and the Legislature on how they are doing removing those barriers.  New York will become the premiere state for opportunity.

Take action now by contacting Governor Paterson and urging him to sign the Integrated Services Bill (A.7277/S.7337).

INTEGRATED SERVICES BILL (A.7277/S.7337) FACT SHEET

Intent of legislation:

To assure that individuals with disabilities have the right to choose and receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate for their needs and are empowered to maximize their inclusion into society.

Why it is needed:

Tens of thousands of individuals with disabilities are unnecessarily institutionalized and segregated from the non-disabled community and tens of thousands more are at risk of institutionalization.  This is largely because of long-standing financial and policy bias in state funded and state administered programs for institutions rather than community based integrated services.

This takes people out of mainstream society and inhibits workforce development and growth;

Costs millions more considering that 2/3 of New York’s budget on long-term healthcare alone goes to institutional service providers at costs that are on average 4 times more expensive than community based services;

Goes against what people want – A 2006 Zogby poll shows that New York responders agree they would prefer to receive healthcare services in their home if it could be done effectively and safely;

The same poll indicates that 8 in 10 support a legal mandate to keep people in their homes to receive care where they may be able to work in the community and care for themselves with some help from caregivers

How would this bill end segregation?

This bill establishes in law, a presumptive right to integrated services;

that individuals can benefit from community-based living;

That state administered programs identify all barriers to community-based living and design policies to prevent service delivery methods that segregate based on disability, and;

Requires that state agencies promote integration through a plan and annual report to the legislature and governor.