I am going to depart from my usual range of topics this week. There is something compelling that I need to share.

As my loyal readers know, this column is sponsored by Caring Professionals, a trusted home care company serving the Queens and Brooklyn communities for 25 years. It was started by a Russian Jewish immigrant nurse who saw her parent’s local friends dealing with insensitive care. Hiring Russian-speaking aides and making home visits for care plans herself, she grew her home care company simply through her reputation for compassion and professionalism. Families turned to her for Medicaid home care and private pay care with ongoing support in their language. The company offered families Medicaid enrollment guidance so that they could navigate the system easily and made referrals to appropriate people to help with the Medicaid application process. Word spread through the ethnic communities of New York, and Miriam Sternberg’s business grew.

In 2015, Caring Professionals’ sister company began to offer CDPAP, Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program, to the community. This novel program allows consumers (the patients) to choose their own caregivers-family members, neighbors, and friends whom they trust. They set their own schedules, direct the tasks, and supervise all aspects of their own care.  If a senior is unable to do so, a designated representative can perform these functions. Under the CDPAP program, the agency manages enrollment, educating the consumer, and payment of the caregiver.

This program operated very well for years serving 70,000 elderly and disabled consumers who managed their own caregiving.

However, now there is bad news. The governor tried to stop the program from functioning downstate earlier this year during the budget process. Caring Professionals, other CDPAP programs, and consumers fought back to ensure the safety and rights of consumers. At present, the governor’s effort to stop CDPAP is being managed by another player - the agency which oversees CDPAP, the NYS Department of Health. It is trying to accomplish the same goal, ending CDPAP, in a different way.

The Department of Health is knowingly insisting on impossibly low rates and difficult processes which will immediately force the companies that serve CDPAP consumers to stop offering the program. In other words, they are making the program impossible to operate.

What will happen when CDPAP programs shut down? Families will have to take home health aides whom they don’t know to service their elderly and disabled. Others will not be safe at home and will transfer to Medicaid nursing homes, not the best choice for frail seniors.

The good news is that you can do something about this bad news coming out of Albany’s Department of Health. We live in a democracy and legislators can be educated. You can call your NYS Assemblymember and Senator and let them know what you think. CDPAP must be preserved and companies that offer the service must be allowed to perform the job that they do so well. Describe your family situation when you call your legislator.

Here is a link to finding your legislator. Go to cdpaanys.org/advocacy-news/votervoice-action-center and type in your address. The name and number of your legislators will come up. Let the governor and your state legislators know that CDPAP keeps your family member safe. It cannot be stopped with impossible rules!