State Sen. Gustavo Rivera, chair of the Senate Health Committee, recently joined the leadership and members of the Independence Care System (ICS) along with members of the Civics League for Disability Rights (CLDR) for a roundtable discussion at ICS’ Bronx office.
The meeting focused on the personal challenges and obstacles that members face in getting adequate disability services, and their continued advocacy to fight for equipment and supports. Another focal point of the meeting was the recently introduced Senate Bill S4789, which would establish a specialized Health Home program to serve the needs of people with physical disabilities.
The CLDR is an independent, volunteer-led group of New Yorkers with disabilities who advocate for themselves and their community while sharing ideas, tools and information about how to effect change for all disabled New Yorkers. The group facilitated the meeting with Rivera in order to bring much-needed attention to the barriers that disabled New Yorkers repeatedly face in receiving the quality care and support that they need.
Sharifa Abu-Hamda and Marcus Johnson, co-chairs of the CLDR, called on Rivera for his support in addressing these issues, and to stress the significance of a specialized Health Home program.
At the meeting, ICS and CLDR members shared their deeply personal stories, ranging from issues receiving necessary equipment and supplies, barriers when navigating their doctor’s appointments and a lack of accessible providers to provide medical services. Not one member who spoke with the Rivera attested to having received a successful, accessible medical examination as a wheelchair user.
Rivera explained that he and his staff would work to bring these issues and stories to the attention of their colleagues to push for the passage of Senate Bill S4789.
With continued reductions and eliminations in services looming, the CLDR and ICS have vowed to continue working with Rivera to create solutions for the problems that people with disabilities continue to face. The CLDR and its members have also called on other elected officials and the state Department of Health to listen to the needs of disabled people and work together to make disability services accessible and attainable for all.
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