Advocacy News

Advocate for Action

LIFEPlan members with intellectual and development disabilities and their families rely on Medicaid, a service system in dire need of updating. People are stuck on waiting lists, the direct care workforce is underpaid resulting in system wide staff shortages, and too often, unpaid family caregivers fill in the gaps. The COVID-19 pandemic magnified these problems and exposed cracks in the OPWDD infrastructure that supports people with disabilities.

Recent changes in funding, advocacy and legislative activity in Albany and Washington, DC are heading in a positive direction. Click the boxes below to learn more about these new opportunities for members and families.

NYS Legislative Activity

Fair Pay for Home Care Act

Home care wages have been stagnant in New York for over a decade. Where aides could once expect to earn 150 percent of New York’s minimum wage in 2006, today they can count on minimum wage or just above it — less than what many fast food and retail workers now make. And the sector has been bleeding workers as a result.

Gov. Kathy Hochul committed in her first State of the State last week to combat historic staffing shortages across the health care industry by investing $4 billion in wages and bonuses. But home care recipients like Johnston say they were disappointed to learn the aides they rely on every day may not be included in the plan. Read More. 

OPWDD Activity

New Acting NYS Commissioner

OPWDD has appointed Kerri Neifeld as Acting Commissioner. In the Commissioners End of Year Message, she stated,

We have a great opportunity to turn things around as we enter the new year. A majority of OPWDD’s share of the American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funding from the federal government has been earmarked to help stabilize the not-for-profit direct support workforce. Incentives and bonuses are expected to be paid in the early part of 2022. And OPWDD will continue to advocate for a more permanent wage increase for this essential workforce within the New York State Budget.”

MFA Council Advocacy Activity

Advocacy Committee Mission

The purpose of the 2022 MFA Council Advocacy Committee is to identify, define, advocate for, and educate LIFEPlan members on the systemic challenges and opportunities within the LIFEPlan disabilities community. 

Advocacy Goals

  • Identify the key barriers to accessing services and improve quality of life for LIFEPlan members. 
  • Work collaboratively with legislators on bills that impact LIFEPlan members. 
  • Work collaboratively with OPWDD, LIFEPlan and Care Management to effect positive change. 
  • Educate members on the Art of Advocacy. 

Led by Member Relations Manager Tara Klein,  Regional Liaisons Shailene Fellows and Becky Mcdermott, and MFA Council Members Steve Gonyea and Tina Fitzgerald

Self-Advocacy Committee

Your Voice Matters

The MFA Council Self-Advocacy Committee will establish a supportive community for LIFEPlan members who have the motivation and passion for developing new skills that can lead to strong advocacy and leadership opportunities for themselves and their peers.

What to Expect:

  • Join quarterly virtual meetings with other LIFEPlan self-advocates 
  • Become a member of the SANYS Chapter in your Region 
  • Participate in a virtual self-advocacy training program 

Led by Member Relations Manager Tara Klein and Regional Liaison Kevin Carman
For more information, contact Tara at or 914-295-0415

Learn more here.