Thursday, April 17, 2014

How State Budget Impacts On Persons With Developmental Disabilities

The 2014-2015 state budget recently adopted under the leadership of Governor Cuomo will provide individuals with developmental disabilities new opportunities for community integration and enhance the safety of individuals we serve, while also providing significant enhancements for the staff that work directly with individuals.
The budget provides a 2% compensation increase for direct support professionals (DSPs) working for nonprofit providers effective January 1, 2015, and provides an additional 2% increase for DSPs and clinical staff beginning April 1, 2015.  The budget also provides funding to design a DSP credentialing program to explore opportunities to improve the skills and compensation for both state and voluntary sector DSPs.

Safe handling measures have been included in the budget to protect the individuals we serve from being injured during transfers and reduce injuries suffered by staff, prolonging their careers. Under this new law, the Department of Health will establish a Safe Patient Handling workgroup by January 1, 2015 to study best practices in safe handling; thereafter each covered facility would establish a committee by January 1, 2016 to establish safe patient handling policies which would be required to be in effect by January 1, 2017.  

An $88 million increase in state and federal Medicaid matching funds is included in the budget to support individuals and families entering the OPWDD service delivery system, or requiring an enhanced array of services, and to help individuals transition from institutional programs into community settings.  Tax credits are also provided for businesses who hire individuals with developmental disabilities.

For individuals seeking greater independence, the expansion of the Nurse Practice Act exemption to non-certified settings will significantly expand supports available to help individuals work in the community, and live where and with whom they want. The budget also establishes an independent advocacy program to help individuals with developmental disabilities navigate managed care, and help ensure their rights are respected and appropriate services are delivered.

These budget investments will help strengthen the system of support for individuals with developmental disabilities as we continue to transition individuals to appropriate community opportunities. 

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