NYAPRS Note: The following was originally titled “Cuomo is One Step Away from Historic Disability Policy Record” and was changed somewhat by Times Union editors. Omitted was an alternative recommendation to expanding Kendra’s Law that called for “more thorough investigation, especially into the need for more specialized police training and approaches on better responding to people in acute distress.”
Legislative proposals to expand the law are opposed almost every single leading mental health/disability advocacy organization (15) in New York including:
- Association for Community Living
- Center for Disability Rights
- Coalition for the Homeless
- Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies
- Mental Health Association in New York State
- Mental Health Empowerment Project
- National Association of Social Workers – NYS
- New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services
- New York Association on Independent Living
- NYS Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors
- NYS Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare
- New York State Psychiatric Association
- New York State Rehabilitation Association
- Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy
- Supportive Housing Network of New York
High Marks For Cuomo’s Aid For Disabled
By Harvey Rosenthal, Commentary Albany Times Union May 14, 2012
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has launched an extraordinary series of initiatives to improve services and policies affecting millions of New Yorkers with disabilities.
As he has done with previously intransigent policy areas like education and Medicaid, the governor has gone where no governor has been able to go before in overcoming daunting obstacles and overhauling systems in ways that will benefit our community for generations to come.
These have included landmark advances in the following areas:
Regional behavioral health organizations are filling the cracks through which far too many at-risk individuals have fallen, ensuring they get much improved hospital discharge and community follow-up services.
Medicaid health homes are requiring mental health, substance use and medical service providers to integrate their efforts to better engage and serve high-cost individuals.
Managed special needs plans are coming next year that will see that only those service approaches that engage and support high-needs individuals will be funded and grow.
The Cuomo administration is leading other states in adopting the progressive Medicaid option known as the Community First Choice program. That ought to bring in additional federal funds to provide community based alternatives to nursing homes and hospitals.
The governor also committed the state to develop a federally mandated “Olmstead implementation plan” that will set measurable targets to ensure New Yorkers with disabilities are served in community settings rather than institutions.
Just last week, Cuomo declared war on those workers who abuse New Yorkers with disabilities by creating a 400-person strong Justice Center that will set national standards in the reporting of and response to such abuses.
For many of us in the state’s disability advocacy community, the governor has earned very high marks. But he has one more step to go. He must resist pressures to expand or make permanent Kendra’s Law, an unproven program that brings in the courts and the police to force outpatient mental health treatment on poorly engaged at-risk individuals.
Legislative proposals to expand the law are opposed by almost every single statewide advocacy group. They are instead being driven by defamatory tabloid coverage of several New York City-based tragedies that require more thorough investigation.
We agree with Cuomo’s comments that policies of this nature must not be driven by a few incidents and sensationalized news stories.
Harvey Rosenthal is executive director of the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services. He lives in Greenwich.