© 2024 WRVO Public Media
NPR News for Central New York
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Schumer calls for better coverage of disabled outside large institutions

Tom Magnarelli
Sen. Charles Schumer (right) at ARC of Onondaga in Syracuse which provides services for those with developmental disabilities.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) is pushing for legislation to give the developmentally disabled more living options. He is proposing to give those living at home the same benefits that those in institutional care get. The disabled may currently be paying high out-of-pocket insurance costs for in-home services because of how current laws operate.

Schumer says it's discrimination that Medicaid and insurance companies reimburse the disabled living in larger institutions, but may not be covering in the same way those individuals living in other locations. He said the laws have not caught up with the process of de-institutionalizing the developmentally disabled, which means having them in more home or group settings.

“If they want to live at home, they should be able to live at home, without the family having to go into huge financial expense because it’s not reimbursed by Medcaid or insurance,” Schumer said. “It’s a flawed system that needs to be fixed. Institutional facilities can be great options if that’s what the individual decides is best. But it shouldn’t be the only option, which is unfortunately what it is.”

Schumer said this would give the disabled more independence and might save taxpayers money. He says the average cost of living in a nursing facility is about $90,000 a year. The bill will be reviewed by the Congressional Budget Office and if it does save money, Schumer says it will be easier to get passed through Congress.

Congressional bills for the developmentally disabled have found bipartisan support in the past. Schumer co-sponsored a law passed in 2014 that allows those with disabilities to open tax-free savings accounts to cover certain expenses.

Supreme Court Nominee

Schumer called President Obama's recent Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland a perfect choice. Speaking in Syracuse on Monday, Schumer said Garland is not an ideologue and has received praise from both democrats and republicans.

"I think he would be a very good nomination to the Supreme Court and I hope we will have hearings," Schumer said. "The American people should see who he is and what he is like. This would be the first time in a very long time that there were no hearings. The Constitution says that's how it should be and we should follow it."

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and many other republican senators are calling for the open Supreme Court seat to be filled after a new president is in office. The nomination came one month after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Schumer expects the public will apply pressure to senators who want to delay a confirmation hearing.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.