State considers deep cuts to home health worker program

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The state Health Department is considering deep cuts to the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program.

It allows a disabled person to choose their own home health workers, relatives or friends in some cases, with the help of what's known as a fiscal intermediary who handles items like payroll and taxes.

Proposed cuts to the program would mean payouts to those intermediaries could suddenly drop by 60% to 80%.

Kimberly Yuknis, of Stony Brook, lives with cerebral palsy. She says she would have a hard time getting by without her home health aide Connie, whose services are funded through CDPAP.

"She helps me with all my activities of daily living, from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to bed," Yuknis says.

The Department of Health could implement the change as early as July 1, but advocates are urging them to wait until at least January 2020 before making a decision.

Wednesday in Albany, more than 100 people, many of them recipients of CDPAP benefits, demonstrated against the proposed cuts, fearing it could put them in a nursing home or leave them stranded at home, unable to get out of bed or call 911 in an emergency.

The Health Department insists it's committed to the program, writing, "The more than 70,000 self-directing consumers...will continue to receive services as they do today without any reduction in care."

This week, the chairs of both the state Assembly and Senate health committees wrote a joint letter to the Department of Health also asking to delay the decision until next year.

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