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Historic Legislation Restores $90M cut

Historic Legislation Restores $90M cut

In an effort led by Long Island Assemblyman, Harvey Weisenberg, a $90M funding reduction to voluntary developmental disabilities agencies was restored on Monday June 17, averting austerity measures and service cuts. And, though the details of how this money would be put back has not been finalized, the legislation, which drew unanimous support in the state Assembly, marked a landmark victory for disability advocates.

Governor Cuomo, responding to a federal rate cut to Medicaid for its developmental disabilities programs, added a 6% across the board rate cut to voluntary developmental disabilities agencies like Camp Venture as a late amendment to his executive budget in February. The cut, which voluntary agencies argued would have had a devastating impact on essential services to people with developmental disabilities, found support in both houses of the state legislature for restoration. In the final budget deal, however, the cut was reduced to a (4.5%), $90M targeted cut and the Governor’s initial implementation date of April 1, was rolled back to October 1.

Assembly advocates, led by Weisenberg (and Speaker Silver), however, persisted in seeking an appropriation for full restoration. That legislation finally found approval in the Governor’s office and became law on Monday, June 16.

“All of us at Camp Venture are very proud of our state representative in the Senate and the Assembly who fought for restoration,” said Dan Lukens, Camp Venture’s Executive Director. “We are especial grateful to Assemblyman Weisenberg whose heroic and courageous leadership in defense of the rights and opportunities of our citizens with developmental disabilities, was nothing short of historic.”

With a significant Medicaid rate cut imposed on New York State and a mandate from the federal government’s Center for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) to transform its developmental disabilities service system to conform to federal service models, the Cuomo administration is/was under pressure to cut costs and change programs. Moreover, in the context of the Accountable Care Act, Olmstead and rising health care costs, a perfect storm of economic and political forces conspired to undermine the supports offered to people with developmental disabilities and their families in New York State.

“This legislation marks a turning point,” said Lukens. “A line was drawn in the sand on behalf of some of the most vulnerable members of our state community and because of these leaders, they were not forgotten. They were not swept aside. Today is a day to be grateful and to be proud”

Parent and advocates are encourage to write to your legislators to thank them for their support.

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2008 Rockland County Autism Symposium Venture Foundation Address
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