Assemblymember Titus' Able Column
As new Chair of the Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities, I have been spending a great deal of time talking with advocates and individuals with disabilities about the issues and programs that are important to them while at the same time beginning to fine tune the list of priorities that the Task Force will focus on under my watch. I am very aware that for several years, the Task Force agenda has been developed with great input from the disability community, and I plan to carry on that very valuable tradition.
For instance, in my last Able column I discussed the introduction of legislation (A.8520) intended to address the statewide problem that exists regarding the provision (or lack thereof) of private transportation (taxi/shuttle services) as it pertains to people with disabilities. That legislation has become one of the Task Force's top priorities because of the constant and valuable efforts made by extremely helpful and informative advocates. Furthermore, I have been overwhelmingly informed by the community, Assembly staff and previous Task Force Chairs that, among other things, the housing crisis and civil rights protections continue to be issues that MUST be addressed. I strongly agree, and will continue to do so.
In addition to the above-listed priorities, which are incredibly important, I would also like to take a closer look at New York's Medicaid Buy-In program, which many of you know became effective in 2003 in order to allow people with disabilities to buy into the federal Medicaid program by paying premiums on a sliding scale based on income. After a great deal of advocacy from New York's disability community, this measure became a reality because it is critical for people with disabilities to be able to work and still maintain the benefits they need to pay for such life-sustaining items as home health care, durable medical equipment and prescriptions. People with disabilities should not be forced to turn down jobs because of the risk of losing their health benefits.
I have recently been informed that there have been movements based on need from New Yorkers with disabilities to enhance and improve the Medicaid Buy-In program. And because the disability community has been so instrumental in helping the Task Force identify both critical needs and priorities, I'm asking Able's readers to contact my office regarding their experiences (both positive and negative) with the program thus far. This issue is one that I have great interest in pursuing on behalf of the thousands of New Yorkers with disabilities who would like to work but who can't for fear of losing their Medicaid benefits.
Therefore, if you have any comments, concerns, problems or suggestions regarding the Medicaid Buy-In program, I urge you to contact my Task Force office at:
New York State Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities
I would really appreciate the input.
Assemblymember Michele Titus, Chair
New York State Assembly
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