Cuomo Launches 'Able New York' Community Integration Initiatives; Her More at the NYAPRS Conference

NYAPRS Note: NYS Governor Cuomo recently marked the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act by launching several initiatives aimed to advancing the community integration of New Yorkers with physical disabilities. At the same time, NYAPRS has long advocated for housing and employment related advances that support the broader disability community as well as a member of the state’s Most Integrated Coordinating Council (MISCC). 

Our primary focus at the last few meetings of MISCC has been to push for strategies to raise enrollment in the state’s Medicaid Buy In Work Incentive program and to launch an initiative to refurbish shuttered housing and make them available to people with disabilities. We’ve also sought a more visible, ongoing and meaningful role for local advocates from across the state, beyond the statewide quarterly meeting.

Assistant Secretary for Mental Hygiene Shelly Weizman and current MISCC chair OMH’s John Allen will be on hand at our upcoming NYAPRS Conference to provide new details about the state’s efforts in these areas. 

The conference is only 1 month away (September 12-14 at the Honor’s Haven Resort in Ellenville. Register today at

Governor Cuomo Directs State Agencies to Implement Policies Aimed at Supporting Community Living for New Yorkers with Physical Disabilities
Recognizes 28th Anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act with Launch of "Able New York" Agenda, a Multi-Agency Effort to Improve Accessibility Across New York State
July 26, 2018

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today marked the 28th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act with the launch of the "Able New York" agenda, a multi-agency initiative that will emphasize enhanced accessibility to state programs and services for New Yorkers with disabilities. At the Governor's direction, The Department of Health will lead the first phase of the initiative with a series of policies aimed at supporting community living for New Yorkers with physical disabilities.

….Today, at the direction Governor Cuomo, and as part of the "Able New York" initiative, the New York State Department of Health detailed a series of aggressive actions to support community living for New Yorkers with physical disabilities.

Department of Health"Able New York" Initiatives

The Department will issue a series of guidance documents for providers and other entities on existing requirements and programs that emphasize choice and integration for people who receive support from the agency for their physical disabilities. Included in this series will be:

  • Dear Administrator Letter: The Department will issue a Dear Administrator Letter to all nursing facilities reminding them of their obligations to provide assistance to any resident that wishes to return to the community.
  • Issue Updated Guidance on the Immediate Need Program: The Department will issue new guidance to Local Divisions of Social Services regarding the immediate need program for authorizing personal care services. The Department will intervene in counties that are not complying with all aspects of the program.
  • Provide Education about MLTC Housing Disregard: The Department will provide education to nursing homes, adult homes, local governments, and Managed Long Term Care (MLTC) Plans about the MLTC Housing Disregard, which provides nursing home residents who are discharged back to the community with additional housing allowance should they join a MLTC plan.   

In addition to providing guidance on existing programs, the Department will move to establish a new requirement for nursing homes to highlight the importance of providing education and assistance on community living options. The Department will explore the following as part of a Phase 1 package:

  • Nursing Home Certification Requirement: The Department will require Medicaid-enrolled nursing homes to certify each year that they have a) assessed all residents' functional capacity; b) asked residents about their interest in receiving information regarding returning to the community; and c) provided sufficient preparation and orientation to residents to ensure safe and orderly discharge from the facility.
  • Require Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Evaluations as Part of Certificate of Need (CON) Review:  The Department will require any new application for additional skilled nursing home beds or change of ownership to include, as part of its business plan submitted with a CON, an assessment of the home and community based services (HBCS) in the service area, and a description of its current or planned linkages to such HBCS services, and how its admission policies will ensure that residents are placed in the most appropriate least restrictive setting.
  • Discharge Rights Letter: The Department will require all nursing homes to inform residents and their families and representatives, in writing, upon admission of their discharge rights, including information on home and community based services and community transition programs. The Department will require all nursing homes to publicly post information regarding available resources and services that can assist residents in moving to the community. The Department will explore additional ways to highlight discharge options and will engage the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program.
  • Nursing Home Discharge Incentive: The Department will incentivize nursing home discharges by developing a quality metric that rewards facilities that discharge long stay residents to the community. Discharged residents must be successfully maintained in the community for at least 90 days.

Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker said, "As we come together as New Yorkers to recognize the significance of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Department of Health is proud to be implementing policies aimed at making life in New York more accessible for people of all abilities.  The Able New York Agenda builds on the intra-agency work of the Governor's Health Across All Policies Initiative and Age Friendly New York, to bring agencies together to address the needs of all New Yorkers and create stronger communities."

Bruce Darling, Executive Director of the Center for Disability Rights, "CDR has been working on deinstitutionalizion initiatives for over 25 years. We see phase one of this plan as a positive step forward to securing the right of Disabled New Yorkers to live in freedom. We're looking forward to working with the Governor's office during the next phases, including the budget process to create funding mechanisms that promote community integration through managed care and address the critically important wage enhancements needed for homecare workers."

Lindsay Miller, Executive Director, New York Association on Independent Living said, "The New York Association on Independent Living's (NYAIL) network each day confronts almost insurmountable barriers to achieve independent living for people with disabilities, especially those stuck in nursing homes because the necessary accessible housing and supports aren't available. NYAIL looks forward to partnering with the Governor to implement these important administrative initiatives advanced on the 28th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Access and integration, which are legally protected rights, remain a goal rather than a reality for many people with disabilities. Our ILC network exists to ensure that all people with disabilities receive the services and supports they need, when they need them, and in the communities where they live."

Brad Williams, Executive Director, NYS Independent Living Council said, "We support the governor's initiative to increase independent living choices and ensure every individual's right to live in their community."

Lara Kassel, Coordinator, Medicaid Matters said, "There are significant barriers that keep people from returning from nursing facilities to their homes and communities. When it works well, Medicaid can help people live in homes and not nursing facilities. Medicaid Matters New York looks forward to working with Governor Cuomo to implement policies that ensure the rights of people with disabilities and seniors to live in the most-integrated setting are upheld."