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Protestors Take Aim at “Devastating” Paterson Medicaid Cuts

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October 21, 2009

ALBANY, N.Y. - Governor David Paterson's proposed $471 million in cuts to Medicaid and other health and mental health programs are being called "devastating" by New Yorkers with disabilities and their advocates, many of whom will testify today before the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.

Susan Dooha, who runs an independent living center, warns that 670,000 New York residents could lose the only aid keeping them from homelessness.

"And they're faced with losing the care that they need at home to maintain their balance, and to keep from having to go into a special homeless shelter or a nursing home."

Dooha says she realizes the state is in deep financial difficulty, but has counted more than 167 separate, specific budget cuts aimed at people with disabilities, and those who are elderly.

On one level, Dooha says, she understands why Paterson is proposing to trim so many statewide services. But to target such areas as monthly income for people who are unemployed or have disabilities, legal services, domestic violence services, and home and community-based services, she believes is short-sighted.

"These are just devastating, devastating cuts that, at the end of the day, are going to end up costing the state more money because people cared for at home, cost less to care for. A lot of the cuts are very painful to make and I don't envy those people with their fingers on the scissors."

Another hearing is scheduled in the Senate Finance Committee on Monday, October 26.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY