Be Careful What You Ask For

By Ken Dibble

People should be careful what they ask for. “Social determinants of health” is a slippery slope that could leave many of us at the bottom of a cliff.

Way back in the late 1960s, when Ed Roberts and some other pioneering disabled college students invented the “Independent Living Center”, they had the idea that there could be a place where they could make their own decisions about what they needed, and accept responsibility for the consequences—whether positive or negative—of those decisions.

The Center was a place where people who considered themselves to be disabled could get a wheelchair repaired, cobble together some innovative piece of adaptive equipment, find a personal attendant, share tips with each other on how to find places to live and get other things done in an “able-bodied world”, and work together to make that world better for them. That included getting politicians to increase physical accessibility and do away with rules that embodied negative attitudes about the worth and abilities of disabled people.

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Hochul and the Legislature Make it Rain

This year’s NY State budget battle dragged on past the end of the fiscal year on March 31 due to serious disagreements on some items, but most of the largesse in Governor Hochul’s initial proposals made it through, while some of her worst ideas got canned.

Governor Hochul was frightened about how pressure from the right could affect her re-election hopes. She faced a primary challenge from Democrat Tom Suozzi, who was running to her right, and she believed that whomever the Republicans put up would also be a threat. So bail reform was an issue that ground the budget negotiations to a halt. Hochul was desperate to seem tough on crime, while Democrats, especially in the Senate, held firm on previously-enacted reforms. And, for the first time in decades, two very contentious disability issues also figured into the final negotiations. One was an attempt to expand Kendra’s law to make it easier to force people into mental health treatment. The other was the huge outcry over wages for homecare workers.

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Independent Assessor, Professor?

When the state legislature severely limited eligibility for Medicaid Personal Care Services (including CDPA) in the 2020 budget process, it also put an end to allowing disabled people’s personal physicians to determine that they need personal care. Why did they do this?

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Summer 2022 Issue No. 147 – PDF Version

Summer 2022 Issue No. 147 – Website Version