State Budget Cuts Prompt Lawsuit By Centers That Help New York’s Disabled And Elderly Residents


BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) – The Finger Lakes Independence Center in Ithaca is among those agencies suing the New York Department of Health over cuts to a program that assists the elderly and people with disabilities.

Independence centers help people to live at home instead in a nursing facility. In some instances, their clients continue to work and are financially independent. The centers use Medicaid funds to hire, train and pay aides.

The Department of Health recently changed the way those payments are calculated. 

Jan Lynch, Executive Director of the Finger Lakes Independence Center, said the new method makes the centers pay costs that were once paid through Medicaid. If they can not afford those payments, she says the centers could go out of business.

“We do the payroll portion, we bill Medicaid,” she said. “We orient the aides. We orient the consumers. We do several other things that are required by the program or else by state law.”

Provided by Bard Prentiss

Bard Prentiss in a wooden canoe he made. Prentiss is a retire SUNY art professor. (Photo: Provided by Bard Prentiss)

Bard Prentiss said help from the Center lets him stay at home with his wife.

“It saves the state, the county,” he said, “because I, we couldn’t do it. I mean, my pension would be gone in no time at all.”

Prentiss said he also likes that he chooses his aide, not an agency.

A court hearing in the case was held this week in Binghamton. The judge has not issued a decision.