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Prohibition Against Aide-Transportation to Non-Medical Destinations Lifted

August 13, 2009

Author:  Ellen Krakow, Staff Attorney, Nassau Suffolk Law Services

As a result of advocacy efforts by persons with disabilities and their representatives from across the State, the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), has reversed a policy decision forbidding persons participating in the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP) from being transported outside the home by their CDPAP aides. On December 24, 2008, NYSDOH issued a General Information System alert (GIS) notifying all local Medicaid offices that CDPAP recipients may continue relying on their CDPAP aides for transportation IF (1) the transporting is to a  non-medical destinations, (2) the personal assistant will be performing tasks included in the consumer’s Plan of Care at the  destination, (3) the consumer has no family members, friends or other personal assistants available and willing to provide the transportation, and (4) the aide and the consumer agree to be fully responsible for any potential liability. (Aide-provided transportation remains prohibited as to those consumer’s whose physician’s have issued orders or opinions stating that, for health or safety reasons, the aide should not drive in order for the aide to be immediately available while the consumer is in transport.)  Since the inception of CDPAP in New York, consumers participating in the program have routinely relied on their personal assistants for both their medical and non-medical transportation needs.  It was widely understood that transportation was among the essential tasks personal assistants were to provide their significantly disabled clients under the statute and regulations governing the program.

Earlier this year, CDPAP consumers in Suffolk County and elsewhere began receiving notices from their private providers informing them that NYSDOH had changed its CDPAP policy and was no longer allowing personal assistants to provide transportation anywhere.  The notice directed consumers to use Medicaid Transportation for travel to all medical venues, and to use friends or family to get to any non-medical destinations.  CDPAP recipients (or their guardians) in Suffolk County were required to sign statements acknowledging their understanding of this policy change.  Many severely disabled consumers were suddenly left without any reliable and accessible means of getting to work, school, programs, social activities, shopping and other essential errands, and, in some instances, medical appointments.  The policy change extremely disrupted life in one Suffolk County family in which 10 disabled adopted children, all young adults living with their mother, were effectively stranded once their aids could no longer bring them to their outside activities.

Nassau/Suffolk Law Services is pleased NYSDOH has lifted its prohibition against aide- transportation to non-medical destinations. However, we believe NYSDOH policy requiring all transportation to medical appointments by Medicaid transportation may prove problematic in some cases and we are continuing to explore the issue on behalf of our clients.

CDPAP recipients and their representatives with questions regarding DOH’s current CDPAP transportation policy may contact Robert Briglio or Ellen Krakow at Nassau/Suffolk Law Services, Islandia office (631-232-2400).  Persons from Upstate may call Simeon Goldman at Disability Advocates, Inc. (518-432-7861).


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