The Center for Disability Rights would like to thank Governor Hochul for her continued support of the Disability Community in her State of the State speech. This administration marks a major shift from the prior Executive’s approach to working with Disabled New Yorkers. As an example, Governor Hochul provided ASL interpreters as part of the Start of the State to ensure Deaf individuals had access; the previous Executive needed to be sued before ASL interpreters were utilized during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We were pleased that in her address Governor Hochul pledged to expand measures to support people with mental health disabilities and to continue her support of home care services. Additionally, in her State of the State policy book she included a directive to improve the transparency of home care services, as well as commitments to issuing an Olmstead Plan, supporting access to employment for individuals with disabilities, and providing more support for services which ensure individuals can live independently.
Acknowledging the difficult upcoming budget year, the Governor’s commitment to the Olmstead plan is even more powerful. In support of an Olmstead plan that furthers the right of Disabled New Yorkers to live independently in the community, she will a need to increase wages for home care workers and repeal eligibility limits for home care services. Low wages have created a catastrophic shortage of home care workers; this, combined with making it harder for people to receive services by reducing eligibility, will lead to a higher number of individuals being forced into institutions against their will.
We believe that with the Governor’s support of Olmstead and reforming the managed care system, the State can save money while improving the lives of New Yorkers with disabilities. Again, we thank Governor Hochul’s commitment to improving the supports and services disabled New Yorkers utilize to live independently in the community. We look forward to working with the Executive and all other stakeholders to make New York a better place for individuals to live, work, and thrive.