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Popular personal assistance program likely faces major change in final NYS budget

State Senator John Mannion with AccessCNY Executive Director Paul Joslyn and one of their clients, Larry Hart with AccessCNY Caregiver Erik Mattox.
John Smith
State Senator John Mannion, left, with AccessCNY Executive Director Paul Joslyn and one of their clients, Larry Hart with AccessCNY Caregiver Erik Mattox Jan. 25, 2024.

A Central New York agency that serves people with disabilities is disappointed to learn that the final New York State budget will likely dramatically change a program that serves people with disabilities and the elderly. AccessCNY administers the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance or CDPA program for 500 people. A release from the governor's office references "$200 million in Medicaid savings through fiscal intermediaries and by cracking down on CDPA fraud." AccessCNY is one of 300 intermediaries across the state who handle payroll and other paperwork for personal care staff employed under the program. Associate Executive Director of Development Matt Seubert says the state believes eliminating the intermediaries will save money. But he says it will have a devastating impact. 

“Moving to one statewide entity would essentially create a monopoly and a monopoly that's run by a company outside of New York State, one that would have really no incentive to provide quality services," Seubert said. "This change would put thousands of people out of work across the state, but more importantly, where this change has occurred in other states, leave people with disabilities without the support to continue to live independently.”

Seubert says the current CDPA program helps individuals hire the staff they need to live independently. He says the new model in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania has created problems where staff aren’t getting paid for weeks or months, leading to less care and other unintended consequences.

 “So without staff, those individuals who at present can live at home with just a little bit of help are left to look for other types of care which end up being more expensive in the long run …nursing homes, assisted living.”

 Seubert says the state can use its existing authority to hold unethical agencies accountable.

"The state requires us and all fiscal intermediaries, the 300 across the state to file annual reports," Seubert said. "Over half of those entities have not filed those reports. So there is an easy way for the state to remove bad actors and save money now without harming individuals with disabilities.” 

AccessCNY is the longest-serving CDPA provider in the region, picking up the program when it first began more than 30 years ago. Seubert hopes people with disabilities won’t be treated as an afterthought in the final budget.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at