Wednesday, May 25, 2011

RCIL's 2011 Policy Agenda

We believe if you want to live independently you don’t need permission, you need resources. At RCIL, we provide real solutions to the personal, social or governmental barriers that are stopping your decisions from being respected and realized. We have four decades of experience in providing personally tailored advocacy, information, and training services. In 2011, it’s possible to move from segregated placements to people living in their communities with only the support they need and choose.

RCIL believes that the widespread poverty, segregation, and isolation of people with disabilities is unacceptable, should not be tolerated, and requires change.

Reduce Isolation and Transform Service
Government should not financially support unnecessary or unwanted segregated living. New York continues to discriminate against New Yorkers with disabilities by segregating them in dead-end settings, simply because of a disability. We oppose changes that jeopardize existing programs and services that are shown to help individuals live and work independently in their own homes and communities.

Improve Health
Government should provide individuals with safety-net health and long-term health care service options. Individual choice is essential for quality and cost-effective services that allow the greatest opportunity for independence. We oppose changes that restrict eligibility, place unnecessary hardships on individuals or providers, or ignore individual differences in need or preference.

Reduce Poverty
Government should create and support integrated employment, education, and savings strategies so that individuals can leave poverty. Effective safety-net programs can foster independence by supporting employment and re-entry to education throughout the lifespan. We oppose policies that discriminate against people because they are poor or that discourage work, saving, or asset development.
Our specific reccomendations:

Reduce Isolation and Transform Service
Enact “The Integrated Services Bill” in New York that presumes all people can benefit from community life. Amend the law so that people with disabilities have the right to choose employment and receive supports in their own homes and communities. Current maintenance programs and institutional living perpetuate dependency and poverty.
Support “Community First Choice Act” in New York. As part of the federal Affordable Care Act, additional options for states are now available to move their long-term care service systems from costly, outdated institutional models to community-based models.
Fully implement New York’s Nursing Facility Transition and Diversion Program. Nursing facility placement continues to be easier than helping someone to return home after illness or injury requiring a hospital stay. Identifying and removing barriers to effective implementation of this initiative will allow people to stay in or move back to their home.

Improve Health
Protect choice within New York’s “managed care” approach to services. As Medicaid Redesign efforts force people with long term care needs into coordinated care organizations, we risk losing consumer-directed models of care. Having a disability does not inherently require a medical approach to service.
Advocate against federal proposals to shrink Medicaid and Medicare programs. This “block grant” approach sets annual spending limits for states. These caps will limit access to healthcare and undermine current service levels.
Seek opportunities to encourage balance between regulatory oversight and service. Excessive regulations and monitoring of funds can impede innovation and cost effectiveness. Access to quality care depends on adequate funding, provides flexibility for meeting complex human needs, and respects human potential.

Reduce Poverty
Expand partnerships, transform public investments, and create demonstration projects that increase employment opportunities for all people. The recession and high unemployment rate in upstate New York creates a tough environment for youth and individuals with disabilities to earn a living wage. RCIL will continue to seek out and work with diverse partners and projects that are proving their ability to provide innovative solutions.
Raise expectations for achievement in the new 1115 Waiver. New York’s promise of equal opportunity includes work, yet existing Medicaid Waivers do not focus on moving individuals towards real jobs. Self-sufficiency stems from competitive employment and must be a key framework in any proposed plan to truly transform service systems.

RCIL has offices conveniently located in Utica, Amsterdam, Herkimer, Watertown and Indian Lake serving 38 counties New York. We have a qualified and caring staff of nearly 1700 ready to commit to making your plan for independence a reality. If you need a service, chances are we have a relationship that will get it for you.