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Calls to Action

NY Overhauling Medicaid Waiver Program, Moving To Managed Care

October 23, 2014

NEW YORK (October 24, 2014) -- New York State has developed a new "People First Waiver" program that would dramatically alter how Medicaid waiver programs are funded and operated, and has scheduled hearings across the state on October 27 to solicit public comment.

Developed by the state Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), the new programs, once finalized, will replace New York's current Medicaid waiver program with new plans that cover home health and institutional care, and one that covers home- and community-based services (HCBS).

People First would transition New York out of its current fee-for-service program to a managed care model which, based on experience in other states, could significantly impact the quality and level of services provided to the state's disabled community.

In addition, the HCBS services must incorporate a federal directive that Medicaid funding cannot be used to pay for settings that "isolate" people with developmental disabilities from society at large. 

"This includes opportunities to seek employment and work in competitive and integrated settings, engage in community life, control personal resources, and receive services in the community, to the same degree as individuals who do not receive HCBS," according to OPWDD.

The issue gained urgency starting a year ago when the U.S. Department of Justice through an enforcement action forced Rhode Island to close its Medicaid-funded sheltered worskhop program because the participants were kept isolated from the community at large.

"The Statewide Comprehensive Plan for Services will reflect OPWDD’s mission and vision and will project our 5-year plan for implementing the transformational agenda around supporting people with developmental disabilities to enjoy meaningful relationships, experience personal health and growth, live in the home of their choice and fully participate in their communities," according to OPWDD.

OPWDD has scheduled a live video conference at eight locations around the state with Acting Commissioner Kerry Delaney for October 27 from 1 pm to 5 pm. The agency is urging self-advocates, parents as well as other family members, non-profit providers, professionals, advocates, and other interested parties to participate.

For those unable to attend, written testimony can be submitted to:

Ray Pierce, OPWDD, 44 Holland Avenue, Albany, NY 12229, or
via e-mail at

Video Conference Locations and Contact Information

Rochester (Finger Lakes)
620 Westfall Road, Rochester, NY 14620
Room 25 Leaf
Contact: Tracy Scott at (585) 241-5729,
Western New York:
West Seneca
1200 East and West Rd. West Seneca, NY 14224
Building 16, Conference Room 1-153
2295 Millersport Highway
Getzville, NY 14068
Contact: Mary Beth Blodgett (716) 517-2151,
Syracuse (Central NY)
187 N. Concourse, N. Syracuse, NY 13212
Northern Concourse, Regional Training Center
Contact: Beverly Gibbs at (315) 473-6976,

Schenectady (Capital District)
500 Balltown Road, Schenectady, NY 12304
Building 3, Conference Room 2
Contact: Karen Francisco at (518) 388-0431,

Plattsburg (Sunmount)
159 Margaret Street, Suite 104, Plattsburgh, NY 12901
Contact: Jill Hewson at (518) 561-8190,

Kingston (Taconic)
521 Boices Lane, Kingston, NY 12401
Contact:  Amy Witkus (845) 382-1899 x104,

New York City (Metro New York)
25 Beaver Street, New York, NY 10004
Conference Room 3100, 364, and 3102
Bernard M. Fineson
Hillside Complex, Bldg. 80, 80-45 Winchester Blvd., Queens Village, NY  11427
Contact: Claudette Walker at (646) 766-3466,
Long Island
415 A Oser Avenue, Hauppauge, NY 11788
Multi-Purpose Conference Room
Contact: Sheila Jones at: (631) 416-3842,

For general information about the Public Forums, please contact
OPWDD’s Strategic Planning Office:
Phone: (518) 473-9697