NEW YORK _ When Anastasia Somoza addressed the 2016 Democratic National Convention from her wheelchair, she showed the world how far someone with cerebral palsy can go if given the tools they need.
Today, Somoza, 34, works as the disability liaison for the New York City Council and says none of this would have been possible without consumer direction _ an innovative and highly successful program which Gov. Andrew Cuomo's latest budget proposal threatens to eliminate.
“This program is absolutely vital for the thousands of disabled and senior citizens who use it. These proposed changes show just how low of a priority we are,” Somoza said, referring to proposed cuts to an in-home care program that has become vital to the lives to tens of thousands of senior citizens and disabled New Yorkers.
Consumers of the program, along with their personal assistants and other advocates from across the state will rally in front of the Gov. Andrew Cuomo's New York office to protest the catastrophic cuts on Thursday, March 7 between 12:00 and 2:00 p.m.
Activists see the powerful nursing home lobby as being behind the the cuts, since they stand to gain the most from ending a program that helps people remain in the community with their loved ones.
Governor Cuomo’s proposed cuts would effectively eliminate this program, forcing more than 70,000 consumers of the program to move out of their homes and into care facilities where statistics show life expectancy is reduced and quality of life suffers. This makes little sense especially because it costs significantly more to keep some in an institution than it does to have them to live at home.
“These cuts will be disastrous for a state that is already facing a home care crisis,” said Bryan O’Malley, heads an advocacy group in support of the program. “They will force consumers of the program into nursing homes and could cost the jobs of upwards of 100,000 personal assistants who provide care for these individuals. It’s safe to say this could be devastating not just for those involved in CDPA, but for all of New York.”
Somoza was one of the first two people enrolled in the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program which began in New York state in 1995 and has since been widely copied elsewhere. Today, the program empowers tens of thousands of disabled and senior citizens in New York state to take control over their own care by allowing them to live at home and choose their own personal assistants including neighbors, family and friends, rather than having an agency assign a stranger.
Bryan O’Malley, Executive Director of CDPAANYS
Representatives of the Center for Independence of the Disabled New York
Consumers of the program and their personal assistants
Rally against Governor Cuomo’s proposed cuts to the CDPA program
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Office
633 Third Avenue
New York, New York 10017
March 7, 2019