The Southern Tier Independence Center in Binghamton is suing the New York State Department of Health over a $150 million cut in funding to the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program.

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STIC executive director Maria Dibble says the program that offers support to allow people with disabilities and seniors to hire personal assistants and train them as needed is the least expensive form of home health care.

The Health Department says the funding cut is targeting Fiscal Intermediaries that oversee daily operations of the program like time sheets and other documentation for Personal Assistants.

Dibble says, however the cuts are so large that many of those intermediary offices will closed and that could force some clients to turn to other, more expensive forms of Personal Care that don’t provide the freedom of allowing consumers to hire who they want and train them to their specific needs.

STIC’s director says that agency’s direct care rate has already been cut by two Medicaid managed care companies and that affects STIC’s ability to maintain Personal Assistants at their current pay.

Some of those using the program say without P.A.s who specifically help them and their needs, many family members would be forced out of work and onto public assistance.