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Landers Joins Together for Choice Board

Pathfinder CEO advocates in support of choice for people with 
developmental disabilities 

EDMESTON, NEW YORK, January 26, 2018 … Pathfinder Village’s Chief Executive OfficerPaul C. Landers was recently named to the Board of Directors for Together for Choice, a national coalition of service providers, families and concerned citizens who are advocating solutions for the growing shortage of housing and vocational opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). 

Mr. Landers has over three decades of leadership experience in the developmental disabilities field.  During his 10-year tenure at the world-renowned Pathfinder, he has forged close ties with local communities, increased opportunities for people with I/DD, and implemented significant improvements at Pathfinder’s 14-home campus.  He joined the Together for Choice board to better advocate for families and individuals who are now facing dramatic changes in the funding of Medicaid support services. 

In 2014, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in Washington made sweeping changes to the Home and Community Based Waiver, which is the primary funding mechanism that pays for state programs for people with disabilities,” said Mr. Landers. “The start of these changes was in 1999, when the Supreme Court ruled in Olmstead v. L.C. and E.W. that states could no longer institutionalize people with disabilities without regard to their civil rights. That decision further requires that public and private agencies must provide services in ‘the most-integrated setting appropriate to the needs of qualified individuals with disabilities.’ ” 

“So, with the Olmstead decision, people are no longer isolated in developmental centers; we celebrate that change, as well as other measures that ensure civil rights and full access to community,” said Mr. Landers.  “However, CMS and the states have not sufficiently stepped up since 1999 to assure that everyone with a disability has a community-based job and suitable, integrated housing.”

Mr. Landers said that the state-by-state statistics on these unmet needs are startling, and with the recent closure of sheltered employment settings, the situation will worsen.  Together for Choice staff report that nearly a million parents older than 60 are caring for loved ones with disabilities at home. Millions of Americans with disabilities are on multi-year waiting lists for suitable housing; 80,000 autistic adults are on waiting lists for placements that can be up to 10 years long.

“CMS has adopted a very strict and expanded interpretation of Olmstead by presuming most congregate sites, for both day and residential services, are institutional,” said Mr. Landers.  These settings have been placed into a “Heightened Scrutiny” category, a designation that requires agencies to submit extensive proof to document that they are non-institutional. If agencies do not pass these reviews, it may prevent them from enrolling new Medicaid-funded admissions.

“In other states, like Florida and North Dakota, congregate care settings have been approved to receive continued Medicaid payments,” said Mr. Landers.  “Research has shown that Pathfinder Village and similar agencies offer more-effective, less expensive programs; they have better quality-of-life outcomes for individuals than other care models. By disregarding these outcomes, and creating operating roadblocks for agencies through Heightened Scrutiny, CMS is effectively limiting choice and self-determination for people with disabilities.”

In the months ahead, Mr. Landers will join with other directors from Together for Choice to launch a national advocacy campaign to promote congregate settings for people with I/DD and to moderate the federal government’s current regulatory position.  He will lead 30 organizations from seven Northeast states as they meet with elected officials and CMS representatives in Washington, D.C. in the coming months.

“I believe in choice for families, freedom for individuals with disabilities, and sustainable service delivery models.  This is why I joined Together for Choice,” said Mr. Landers.

To learn more about Together for Choice, visit their website at http://togetherforchoice.org.

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About Pathfinder Village: Pathfinder Village is an internationally respected open-access community in upstate New York, and was founded in 1980 to provide people living with Down syndrome and related disabilities an independent, engaging, and fulfilling lifestyle. As it works to provide quality supports for older individuals living with intellectual disabilities, the Village also offers highly successful educational and pre-vocational programs, including its post-secondary program, Otsego Academy, and its community-based day services option for regional residents.  To learn more about Pathfinder Village, please call (607) 965-8377, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., visit the website at pathfindervillage.org, or visit our fan page on the popular social networking site, Facebook.

“Pathfinder Village helps people find their
way in life to independence, success, and
maturity — all the things you want for your family.”
Marian Mullet | Founder of Pathfinder Village