By Maria Dibble
Former Governor Andrew Cuomo is the latest example of that famous saying, which has likely haunted humanity since the beginning of civilization.
We should have recognized the signs when he somehow strong-armed the legislature into giving him more budgetary power during his first term, which he has been ruthless in wielding for his own ends. Now that he has left office, people with disabilities can breathe a deep sigh of relief, with few if any tears being shed over his departure.
The media have spent a great deal of time on Cuomo’s sexual harassment scandal, and rightfully so. Lost in the mix, however, is his legacy of neglect, disdain and outright hostility toward people who are elderly and/or have disabilities.
American Rescue Plan Needs Rescuing
The American Rescue Plan (ARP) was the Biden Administration’s first big COVID-response bill; it was signed into law on March 11, 2021. It included, among many other things, billions of dollars that states can use to supplement their Medicaid home and community-based services.
As explained by New York State Department of Health (DOH) officials, NY was required to submit its plan for how it wants to use this money to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) by around the middle of July. A guidance document released by CMS on May 13 indicates that the agency would approve the plan within 30 days if there were no problems with it.
All of the public commenters emphasized “Workforce. WorkForce. WORKFORCE!” That is, addressing the statewide shortage of direct service workers in all of NY’s home and community based service (HCBS) programs should be the top priority for all agencies. And almost no one disagrees that the primary cause of these shortages is low wages and few or no benefits for the workers. This problem has been building throughout the western world for at least two decades, as we’ve reported many times (AccessAbility Spring 2018, for example), and has long been exacerbated in NY by the Cuomo Administration’s austerity approach to Medicaid funding.