The New York Association on Independent Living (NYAIL) commends Governor Hochul for addressing issues of critical importance to the disability community in her State of the State and accompanying book. Addressing the home care crisis, bringing equity to Medicaid eligibility for seniors and disabled people, and providing New Yorkers with disabilities more representation in state government are all top priorities for the disability community.

Increasing Wages for Home Care Workers

Governor Hochul’s commitment to increasing wages for minimum wage health care workers is very encouraging. Home care workers are essential health care workers and were indeed the heroes of the pandemic. New York has a worst-in-the-nation home care crisis due primarily to very low wages. The result has been that seniors and people with disabilities are unable to get the care they need to remain in their homes and out of nursing homes. We urge Governor Hochul to follow this up by including Fair Pay for Home Care, which would increase wages for home care workers to a living wage, in her Executive Budget.

Medicaid Equity

NYAIL applauds Governor Hochul for including Medicaid equity for seniors and people with disabilities in her State of the State book. This proposal would increase income eligibility for seniors and people with disabilities to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level and would remove the asset limit. These changes would address the current situation where seniors and people with disabilities are subjected to a much lower income limit and an asset limit, which does not apply to the rest of Medicaid recipients. It is essential seniors and people with disabilities can access Medicaid, especially as it is the only insurer that provides comprehensive community-based long-term supports and services (LTSS).

Office of the Chief Disability Officer

Reinstating the Office of the Advocate for People with Disabilities has been a top priority for the disability community. While this proposal is an attempt to address this, more details are needed to ensure the office would have the same powers, responsibilities, and focus, as outlined in A.3130/S1836. This legislation is still pending, and Governor Hochul could sign the legislation today.

Overall, this State of the State demonstrates a marked shift from the previous administration, which only mentioned home care in the context of cutting services and made little to no attempt to address the concerns or priorities of the disability community. Of course, many details still need to be clarified and expanded on in the proposed Executive Budget. We look forward to working with the Hochul administration moving forward on these issues of great importance to the disability community.

January 6, 2022