Veto dismisses rightful concerns about developmental disabilities services

ALBANY, NY (11/23/2015)(readMedia)-- CSEA today expressed bitter disappointment in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's veto of legislation (A. 7332) that would have ensured a better future for individuals and families living with developmental disabilities.

"This legislation, passed unanimously by both houses of the legislature, would compel the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) to show a true commitment to the well being of individuals with developmental disabilities by ensuring access to a range of treatment and living options that appropriately consider their needs," said CSEA President Danny Donohue.

Instead, the veto continues the state's misguided reading of the Supreme Court's Olmstead ruling concerning care of individuals with developmental disabilities. While that ruling requires care be provided in the least restrictive environment, it also holds that the needs of individuals must be addressed. There are many individuals in state operations in particular, who have a wide range of multiple disabilities and health-related needs, who require more intensive care and supervision.

CSEA believes that the state selectively interprets Olmstead to diminish its obligations to provide appropriate levels of care. The administration's murky plans for future housing, services and supervision have raised intense concern and criticism from parents, staff and other advocates across the state – much of it expressed at a series of recent public hearings.

"OPWDD needs to listen to the concerns that have long been raised," Donohue said. "Families are rightly concerned that their loved ones will continue to receive the care they need. Staff are rightly concerned that they will be able to provide the care that is needed and have the help to do it."

"The answers are not simple and unilateral decisions by New York state won't make it any easier," Donohue said.

CSEA represents about 18,000 workers in the developmental disabilities field. Most are delivering state operated services, but the union also represents nearly 2,000 employees in not-for-profit agencies that are contracted by the state. All are concerned about the state's future plans for the system.