101st Assembly District
Kevin Cahill

Room 557 LOB, Albany, NY 12248 • (518) 455-4436
Governor Clinton Building, One Albany Ave., Suite G-4
Kingston, NY 12401 • (845) 338-9610

For Immediate Release
Date: May 01, 2001
Contact: Kathy Keyser
(845) 338-9610

Assemblymember Cahill's Able Column - Introduction of Assemblymember Kevin Cahill as Chair - May 2001

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself as new Chair of the New York State Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities, and give some background as to what the Task Force has been doing since I came on board. But first I'd like to thank my predecessor, Assemblyman Scott Stringer, for all of the hard work he did on behalf of New Yorkers with disabilities. The legacy of the agenda to which he was committed makes me optimistic about the Task Force's proactive mission.

In the months since becoming Chair of the Task Force, I have been fortunate to meet with many of New York's disability advocates through legislative functions and meetings, both in Albany and around the state. The first event I sponsored as Chair was the recent public hearing regarding the status of New York State's compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirement that people with disabilities be served in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs.

The hearing was held in Albany on March 27th, and the response and participation has been overwhelming. Over 30 people presented testimony at the six-hour long hearing, and several more individuals and organizations submitted written testimony. We determined the topic of the hearing in great part due to strong advocacy by the disability community, urging the Assembly to introduce and pass legislation which would require the Department of Health (DOH) to develop a comprehensive, effectively working plan that would provide ADA compliance.

As many of you may be familiar, the need for this legislation stems from the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Olmstead vs. L.C. that says that the unnecessary segregation of individuals with disabilities in institutions may constitute discrimination based on disability. According to a letter sent to all state Medicaid directors from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Supreme Court's decision in Olmstead suggests that a state could establish compliance with Title II of the ADA if it demonstrates that it has:

  • a comprehensive, effective working plan for placing qualified persons with disabilities in less restrictive settings, and;
  • a waiting list that moves at a reasonable pace not controlled by the State's endeavors to keep its institutions fully populated.

The Task Force firmly believes it would be to the state's advantage, as well as for the many people with disabilities who would like to live in a less restrictive setting, to ensure that New York is in compliance with the ADA and the Olmstead decision. Is there any question that New York should be the leader in this area? We believe that integrating these residents into their local communities will offer them increased opportunities to work, have social lives and become more active participants in local affairs. Additionally, we can reduce spending on their health care costs.

New York State's compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act is a far-reaching issue, particularly as it pertains to whether those with disabilities are served responsibly and adequately. The Task Force is currently in the process of reviewing the testimony submitted at the public hearing, whereupon we will determine the most effective plan of action to ensure that New York complies with this very important provision of the ADA in the near future.

In the meantime, I would also like to take this opportunity to invite Able News readers to Albany for the 21st annual Legislative Disability Awareness Day on Wednesday, May 16, 2001. The opening reception will be held in the Well of the Legislative Office Building at 10:00 A.M., where we will recognize our special guest for the event. Several organizations serving people with disabilities will take part in an informational exhibit along the walls of the Well from 10:00 A.M. until 2:00 P.M. In addition, a package of legislation significant to people with disabilities will be available in both the Assembly and Senate chambers.

I truly hope you will join us at what I am sure will be an informative and enjoyable program on May 16th. As always, if you have any questions, you can contact the Task Force office at 518-455-4592.

Assemblymember Kevin A. Cahill is the Chair of the New York State Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities.