FH Called to Mobilize

Posted on September 12, 2011

Senator Tom Duane addresses the Fountian House community.Senator Tom Duane addresses the Fountian House community.Alan Miller and Maria Bronkema
Advocacy Committee, Fountain House

On August 31st, State Senator Thomas K. Duane visited Fountain House to address recent budget cuts and answer questions from our community. He represents our 29th State District that includes the Upper Westside, Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, Greenwich Village, and parts of the East Side. Elected in 1998; Senator Duane was the first openly gay and first HIV positive member of the New York State Senate. His initial political experience comes from his seven year stint on the New York City Council, when he first became aware of Fountain House and its mission.
Senator Duane champions many causes: tenants’ rights, a woman’s right to choose, LGBT rights, and environmental conservation, just to name a few. He’s concerned about the influence of stigma on the delivery of public health services to those living with mental illness and/or with HIV/AIDS. He presently serves on the Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT), a body that Governor Cuomo convened to examine the Medicaid system and develop solutions that will lower its cost without compromising care.
A Fountain House supporter and a recovering mental health consumer, the Senator declared that our voices must be heard and our agenda put on the table. While answering our questions, he was adamant that we become more active in the legislative process. There’s more hope than ever, insofar as we can now participate in MRT decision making. In contrast, last year, on Governor Patterson’s watch, 5 percent was cut from services across the board without any input from consumers.

Following are some quotes excerpted from the Senator’s answers during the questioning period of the event: “There is a paradigm between physical and mental health…integrated medicine”; “the Redesign Team looks for a solution that encompasses this integration”; “go to all the meetings, hearings, including Behavioral ones”; “write to the different health agencies”; and “use personal, powerful stories of recovery from consumers.” Senator Duane emphasized that we not only continue making calls to all the agencies and politicians involved with our issues, but that we also rent a bus and “Get up to Albany to lobby!”  The icing on the cake was Senator Duane’s statement that, as a society, we’ve had the lowest taxes since 1940; we must implement fair taxation and tax people who happen to be wealthy!
The meeting was well attended by members and staff, and many pertinent questions were asked. Thanks to everyone who helped organize the event! 

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