Governor calls for disability oversight
Governor Cuomo says he wants improvements to the care of people at state-run disability facilities. But some say they're worried a bill that would create new oversight for the facilities may be defeated in the state legislature and they're calling for changes to make sure it passes. YNN's Zach Fink has more.
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- Governor Cuomo proposed a new set of standards for care and oversight for over one million people in state facilities. The legislation he unveiled would establish a justice center for the protection of people with special needs. It would include a special prosecutor and inspector general to investigate and prosecute reports of abuse.
The governor establishing the justice center is his top legislative priority for the remainder of the session. A bill has already passed the State Senate, but not the Assembly.
"We have concerns obviously about it being a totally internal process. And that there is no outside review," said Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver.
Michael Carey is an advocate who lost a son to abuse while under state care. He says his concerns have been ignored by the governor.
“The Assembly is listening to me. The speaker is listening to me. I believe this is going to be stopped in its current format. This is not an independent agency. And it is not about protecting the disabled. It is about the exact opposite. It's about protecting the state against lawsuits," Carey said.
Carey's concerns were echoed by the Assembly speaker, who says more independence is needed.
"Somebody who can guarantee the independence of a review of an allegation of abuse. Right now we have internal looks, I think there has to be some way in which somebody can be heard by somebody other than an employee of the state of New York," Silver said.
In a statement, Jim Tntrone, the governor's deputy secretary for health, said, “The Administration has already begun the process to create the independent watchdog the Speaker is referring to by establishing a first-ever outside not-for-profit organization to monitor the system... under the Governor’s proposed legislation every provider will be required to have an incident review committee, which would include representatives of families, consumers and advocates"
Advocates have a number of concerns about the bill, including those who believe nursing homes should also be included. It's unclear what the final legislation will look like, but Silver says some version will pass the Assembly.