amNew York op-ed: New Yorkers with disabilities deserve greater freedom

By Jessica De La Rosa

In 1982, my mother and her home attendant began a 36-year journey together – one made possible only by Consumer Directed Personal Assistance, a unique, cost-effective New York State program that keeps people like my mom, and me, out of nursing homes and able to live independently.

Bizarrely, government bean counters and outside “experts” now are gunning for the program, even though it ultimately saves taxpayers money and improves the lives of tens of thousands of New Yorkers.

My mother and her personal attendant were both pregnant the day they met and they instantly bonded. My mother has cerebral palsy, which affects her ability to walk, her speech and caused some cognitive issues.

My mother’s participation in the CDPA program also has had a profound influence on my life.

Instead, she raised both of us in her own loving home. All because of Consumer Directed care, a concept developed here in New York City that quickly became a best practice across the state and country.

Conceived by people with disabilities in the late 1970s, the idea was to give people control over their own lives as much as possible, instead of putting them at the mercy of private vendors whose main goal is to save a buck.

Of course, there are always bureaucrats who think it’s possible to save money by cutting services to disabled people. For example, Gov. Cuomo’s health department proposed $150 million in savings to CDPA this year, a move temporarily halted a month ago when a court ruled the state had violated its own rules in making the changes.

The funny thing, though, is that in most cases CDPA is actually much cheaper than nursing homes, where some CDPA participants would end up if the program didn’t exist. CDPA costs much less and even if aides were paid more fairly, it would still save the state money.

CDPA has made a huge impact on the lives of thousands of New Yorkers. It’s time the governor and opinion-leaders catch on.

Jessica De La Rosa is the systems advocate at the Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled and a disability rights advocate.

amNewYork version available at https://paper.amny.com/html5/reader/production/default.aspx?edid=d579b43c-ad97-4ec7-8f6d-c36296920291 (see page 6).

Comments are closed.