Governor Cuomo Directs State Agencies to Implement Policies Aimed at Supporting Community Living for New Yorkers with Physical Disabilities

Esq. Stephen B. Hanse

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has marked the 28th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act with the launch of the "Able New York" agenda, a multi-agency initiative that will emphasize enhanced accessibility to state programs and community living services for New Yorkers with disabilities. The Department of Health will lead the first phase of the initiative with other State agencies to follow. 

Department of Health "Able New York" Initiatives

Specifically, the Department will issue a series of guidance documents for providers and other entities on existing requirements and programs that emphasize choice and integration for people who receive support from the agency for their physical disabilities. Included in this series will be:

  • Dear Administrator Letter: The Department will issue a Dear Administrator Letter to all skilled nursing facilities reminding them of their obligations to help any resident that wishes to return to the community.
  • Issue Updated Guidance on the Immediate Need Program: The Department will issue new guidance to Local Divisions of Social Services regarding the immediate need program for authorizing personal care services. The Department will intervene in counties that are not complying with all aspects of the program.
  • Provide Education about MLTC Housing Disregard: The Department will provide education to nursing homes, adult homes, local governments, and Managed Long-Term Care (MLTC) Plans about the MLTC Housing Disregard, which provides nursing home residents who are discharged back to the community with additional housing allowance should they join a MLTC plan.   

In addition to providing guidance on existing programs, the Department will move to establish a new requirement for skilled nursing providers to highlight education and assistance on community living options. The Department will explore the following as part of a Phase 1 package:

  • Nursing Home Certification Requirement: The Department will require Medicaid-enrolled nursing homes to certify each year that they have a) assessed all residents' functional capacity; b) asked residents about their interest in receiving information regarding returning to the community; and c) provided sufficient preparation and orientation to residents to ensure safe and orderly discharge from the facility.
  • Require Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Evaluations as Part of Certificate of Need (CON) Review:  The Department will require any new application for additional skilled nursing home beds or change of ownership to include, as part of its business plan submitted with a CON, an assessment of the home and community based services (HBCS) in the service area, and a description of its current or planned linkages to such HBCS services, and how its admission policies will ensure that residents are placed in the most appropriate least restrictive setting.
  • Discharge Rights Letter: The Department will require all nursing homes to inform residents and their families and representatives, in writing, upon admission of their discharge rights, including information on home and community-based services and community transition programs. The Department will require all nursing homes to publicly post information regarding available resources and services that can assist residents in moving to the community. The Department will explore additional ways to highlight discharge options and will engage the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.
  • Nursing Home Discharge Incentive: The Department will incentivize nursing home discharges by developing a quality metric that rewards facilities that discharge long stay residents to the community. Discharged residents must be successfully maintained in the community for at least 90

To view the Governor’s press release in its entirety, click here.


Stephen B. Hanse, Esq.
518-462-4800 x11