Debate over reforming New York State disabled care
Governor Cuomo continued his push for reforms of the state office for People with Developmental Disabilities Wednesday with a stop in Syracuse as the State Senate passed his plan overwhelmingly. But the bill appears to be stalled in the Assembly. Our Nick Reisman has details.
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NEW YORK STATE -- A measure aimed at overhauling how the state handles reported cases of abuses and neglect at facilities for the developmentally disabled took a step forward in the Senate Wednesday, passing unanimously. Its fate in the Assembly is another story.
We've passed it. Let's see what discussions may occur between the governor and the speaker,” Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said.
The bill would create the Justice Center, a proposed agency set up to oversee the other departments and agencies that treat the vulnerable in state-run or state-sponsored care. The legislation comes after abuse at facilities around the state went unreported and whistleblower employees were punished.
“In Albany there's always a reason not to do something, right? And for every reform there are, it's change and change and brings about opposition. Have I heard any good reason not do this? No,” said Governor Cuomo.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says he supports the broader framework, but indicated this week unspecified changes need to be made to the bill.
“I believe some form of it will. Obviously we support the concept of having to do something to deal with the abuses that have been documented as having taken place,” Silver said.
Some advocates for the disabled are displeased with the proposal, saying abuse wouldn't be directly reported to law enforcement. They also take issue with Clarence Sundram, the chairman of the Commission on Quality Care who they charge didn't do enough to stop repeated abuse cases.
“The issue is here they don't want to be independent and we're not just talking about Clarence Sundram. We're talking about Governor Cuomo,” said Michael Carey, an advocate for the disabled.
Those who treat the disabled quickly defended Sundram's record. And lawmakers who championed the bill say it's only the start of more reforms.
“There's a long ways to go and a lot of the critique is legitimate. But it's not easy moving things here and we're working on a lot of bills that would add to this and this is just the beginning,” said State Senator Roy McDonald.