Legislature's Budget Scuttles Promise of Improved Services and Better Lives for Adult Home Residents

Measure Places Financial Interests of Owners Ahead of Safety and Lives of Residents

ALBANY, May 6, 2003 – State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H., State Office of Mental Health (OMH) Commissioner James L. Stone and State Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities Chairman Gary O'Brien, today denounced the State Legislature's budget plan that effectively scuttles the promise of better, safer lives for thousands of elderly and disabled New Yorkers living in adult homes.

Governor Pataki's budget proposal submitted to the Legislature last year nearly tripled, to $8 million, funding for critical initiatives for adult home residents. The Legislature's recently passed budget decimates that funding by diverting $6 million directly to adult home operators.

Commissioner Novello said, "Thanks to the leadership of Governor Pataki, the adult home initiatives contained in his budget plan were developed through a thoughtful and deliberative process involving a broad coalition of state agencies, community leaders and advocates. The State Legislature's budget has intentionally breeched the faith of everyone involved and left thousands of individuals at risk. These funds should be going to real quality improvement measures in the homes, not into the pockets of operators."

"This is Robin Hood in reverse. They have taken away from New York's neediest and redirected these vital dollars to the adult home industry's operators," Commissioner Novello added.

Commissioner Stone said, "The Legislature's refusal to fund the recommended improvements to adult homes makes their position on this matter crystal clear. Not only does it show a lack of concern for adult home residents, it also shows a total disregard for the commitment of the Adult Home Workgroup and the efforts of this broad based coalition to develop thoughtful recommendations aimed at bringing meaningful improvements to adult homes."

Chairman O'Brien said, "I am deeply disappointed that the Legislature has chosen to reject the Governor's plan to improve the quality of life for adult home residents, which was consistent with the recommendations of the Adult Home Workgroup, made up of advocates, home operators and other service providers, as well as residents and family members. Rather than taking this opportunity to bring about reform, the Legislature has instead put forward a plan under which most of the available resources would be used to provide additional subsidies for adult home operators to continue to conduct business as usual."

In December 2002, following recommendations set forth by the New York State Adult Care Facilities workgroup, the Governor immediately directed the State Department of Health, in conjunction with the State Office of Mental Health, the State Commission on the Quality of Care for the Mentally Disabled and the State Office for the Aging, to implement initiatives to address resident assessments, case management and medication management.

The Governor's funding proposal dedicated $8 million for the completion of independent evaluations and assessments of all residents living in adult care facilities to determine their health and mental health care needs, as well as initiatives to hire nursing personnel to assist residents with their medications on a daily basis, independent peer support programs and strengthened coordination of services.

"This cannot stand," Commissioner Novello said. "We cannot allow brazen political maneuvering to jeopardize the progress that this administration was about to make. Advocates and health care experts alike agreed that we were making unprecedented changes to improve the system."