Bay Ridge

Pols fight for easier Access-A-Ride regulations

February 5, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis says the re-certification process for Access-A-Ride is to cumbersome for elderly and frail clients of the transportation service. Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas
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The process of re-upping with Access-A-Ride should be made easier for clients who are already enrolled in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s paratransit program, according to two lawmakers who are pushing legislation aimed at reducing the bureaucracy and paperwork.

Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis and state Sen. Andrew Lanza are each sponsoring bills in their respective legislative houses to ease the recertification process for senior citizens 80 years of age and older.

Under the bills, paratransit subscribers who are at least 80 years old and are recertifying for Access-A-Ride would be required only to produce correspondence from their physician indicating their need to continue using Access-A-Ride. 

Under current state law, the re-certification process entails endless paperwork, doctor visits and physical examinations at Access-A-Ride offices, according to Malliotakis (R-C-Bay Ridge-Staten Island), who said she has heard from numerous senior citizens requesting her help in navigating the stressful and time-consuming process.

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“Let’s streamline the process and stop making our elderly jump through hoops for a service they were already approved for, rely on and deserve,” Malliotakis said. 

Access-A-Ride is a paratransit service operated by MTA New York City Transit in which eligible clients who cannot navigate buses and subways can reserve rides in advance to travel to their destinations.

Malliotakis said that both she and Lanza (R-C-Staten Island) have had to file appeals with the MTA on behalf of constituents who were denied recertification and that many of the clients who were turned down have physical conditions which have deteriorated since the time they first started using Access-A-Ride. 

Malliotakis first suggested changing the recertification process last year after holding forums in both the Bay Ridge and Staten Island ends of her district and hearing senior citizens speak out on the issue.

The MTA does offer a “Continual Eligibility” status for riders with chronic conditions that will not improve over time. Under the Continual Eligibility program, riders are required only to complete a re-application form once every five years.

But Malliotakis said that Continual Eligibility is determined at an initial in-person assessment and that if the client did not obtain the designation at the initial assessment, then he or she is required to go through an in-person assessment every five years.

The legislation sponsored by Malliotakis and Lanza would effectively place all Access-A-Ride clients in the Continual Eligibility category once they reach the age of 80.

In addition to saving senior citizens time and money, Malliotakis and Lanza said that their proposed legislation would also cut bureaucracy and costs.

“The current recertification policy has unfairly impacted the elderly who often have trouble navigating the process and scheduling appointments. Our senior citizens are being put through hoops, forced to go through the appeals process, visit doctors and assessment centers multiple times, often to be denied and have to go through a cumbersome appeals process,” Malliotakis said.

“We have to make it easier for our seniors to make it to and from appointments at Access-A-Ride offices and not harder. This bill offers a common sense approach to cut through red tape and deliver a better quality of life for those senior citizens who rely on Access-A-Ride,” Lanza said.

 


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