CP State offers recommendations to address the gaps in quality physical- and mental-healthcare

New Yorkers with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) often experience stigma, discrimination, and receive inferior quality service when seeking healthcare.

Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State (CP State), in consultation with its 24 Affiliates throughout the state, has developed recommendations to prioritize health equity for people with I/DD. CP State’s white paper “Prioritizing Health Equity for People with I/DD in NYS: The Smart Thing and The Right Thing To Do,” highlights policy priorities and recommendations as service providers, legislators, and policymakers move forward in ensuring the fundamental right to health care for all New Yorkers.

Among the recommendations are:

  • Loan forgiveness for clinicians training in complex care and those receiving specialty I/DD training.
  • Training first responders, emergency technicians, social services/child protective personnel, and families
  • In disability competencies to ensure quality disability support and care.
  • Expanding telehealth for triage, primary care, behavioral health, and specialty services.

“We drew on the immense amount of experience among our Affiliates and other providers to capture the challenges of disability health issues, as well as the potential solutions we hope will complement and enhance the work that is underway at the state level as the Department of Health and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities strive for health equity in the Medicaid program,” said Mike Alvaro, President and CEO of CP State. “We offer these ideas for our policy leaders, elected officials and others interested in health policy and disability issues to consider as they chart a path forward in New York.”

COVID exacerbates Mental Health Issues in I/DD population

 In addition to the disparity in healthcare, there is a growing unease from disability service providers concerning issues related to mental health services for people with co-existing mental conditions.

In “At The Crossroads: People with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) and Coexisting Mental Conditions,” CP State lays out a pathway to better diagnose mental health disorders in the disability population, provide crisis mental health care, and increase suicide prevention and awareness.

Among the recommendations are:

  • Creating a better understanding between the mental health and disability provider fields, including creating consistent language for co-occurring conditions.
  • Make mental health, wellness, and wellbeing a priority in every disability provider’s child and adult program/service. This includes assessment, treatment, documentation and follow-up in schools, clinics, day habilitation, supported apartments, and respite.
  • Establishing a system of family and agency support in cases where a person threatens suicide, attempts suicide and/or completes suicide.
  • State-funded training for mental health supports.

“The bottom line is simple,” said Alvaro. “We must take the mental and physical health of New Yorkers with disabilities as seriously as we do anyone else’s. Until we do that, we are failing to adequately care for this vulnerable population.”