New York State Assembly, Albany, New York 12248
from the NYS Assembly
Task Force on People
with Disabilities

Kevin Cahill, Chair  white square  Sheldon Silver, Speaker


Kevin A.


NYS Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities


The New York State Assembly Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day will be held in Albany on June 12, 2002. Watch your mail in the upcoming weeks for more details.

Contact Us At:
Agency Bldg. 4
13th Floor
Albany, NY 12248
(518) 455-4592
(518) 455-4731

A Message from the Chair...
May 2002

Dear Friend,

Over the course of the past year, the Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities has made unprecedented progress in the fight for greater accessibility for all in New York’s disability community. With your help, we successfully defeated a motion by the Department of State to impose drastically restrictive building code regulations on those requiring adequate space to live independently. The Task Force also held a public hearing that shed light on what was already suspected – New York has not done nearly enough to fulfill the promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the mandate of the 1999 Olmstead vs. L.C. decision and the obligations and opportunities to remove people with disabilities from institutional living and fully integrate them into our communities.

As many of you are aware, our survey last year of state agencies serving people with disabilities was largely ignored, with only the New York State Education Department providing any reasonable plan to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court’s Olmstead ruling, which declares that states must provide services to people with disabilities in the most integrated settings appropriate to their needs. Given this fact and considering the alarming, oftentimes overwhelming testimony given during our hearing, I recently introduced legislation (A.9913a) to require state agencies to do something they should be doing on their own – providing equal opportunities for every New Yorker, regardless of age or level of disability.

Your time, testimony and tireless advocacy has been critical in this important journey. I am exceptionally pleased to work with both the Coalition to Implement Olmstead in New York and the New York State Disability Budget and Policy Coalition. Our diverse, informed and growing effort will improve the lives of disabled New Yorkers, offering greater opportunities to work, live independently and have a voice in local affairs.

The Task Force on People with Disabilities is also working on several other major issues, many of which are new initiatives, introduced with careful input from the community of disability advocates. Please read page two of this newsletter for more information. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Task Force office at 518-455-4592.

Kevin A. Cahill, Chair
NYS Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities

Assemblymember Kevin Cahill speaks at a February 5th press conference in Albany held by the Coalition to Implement Olmstead in New York.


Medicaid Buy-In Signed Into Law

After two years of relentless advocacy by the disability community, the Medicaid Buy-In program has finally been signed into law. Effective in April, 2003, workers with disabilities will be able to buy into the Medicaid program by paying premiums on a sliding scale based on income, and can earn up to 250 percent of the federal poverty level, or $44,000, while still maintaining Medicaid benefits. Also, the cap on how much a person can retain in assets will be increased to $10,000.

So many more will be able to work now that there will be no risk to existing Medicaid assistance. However, the Buy-In could be made even stronger by exempting spousal income, allowing people with disabilities to plan and save for retirement, and raising asset caps even higher. The Task Force will continue working on such additions to this important measure with my colleagues and many of you in the future.


2002 Legislative Agenda

Each year, the Task Force adopts a legislative agenda based on what we hear are the priorities from New York’s disability community. Listed below are several of the bills that the Task Force is supporting this year.

  •   A.759a (Tonko) — Establishes regional traumatic brain injury technical assistance centers.

  •   A.3225b (Sanders) — Requires a program for telephone access for all New Yorkers.

  •   A.4625a (Cahill) — Requires access aisles of handicapped accessible parking places to be at least 8 feet wide.

  •   A.4626a (Cahill) — Requires access aisles of handicapped parking spaces to be marked with a sign and diagonal stripes.

  •   A.4707 (Cahill) — Clarifies the scope of protections against discrimination on the basis of disability under the New York State Human Rights Law in the area of public accommodations, consistent with the federal ADA and the current policies and practices of the Division of Human Rights.

  •   A.4884a (Cahill)/S.5234 (Padavan) — Provides that the lease, lease-purchase or rental and maintenance of a motor vehicle shall be included within vocational rehabilitation services for the disabled.

  •   A.4885a (Cahill) — Clarifies the scope of protections against discrimination on the basis of disability under the New York State Human Rights Law in the area of government services, consistent with the federal ADA and the current policies and practices of the Division of Human Rights.

  •   A.5797a (Weisenberg) — Requires ATMs to use both audio and visual system of relaying messages to its customers.

  •   >A.5971b (Luster)/S.5493 (Libous) — Waives state’s sovereign immunity to liability under the ADA.

  •   A.6673b (Stringer)/S.6360 (Velella) — Includes persons with disabilities within the definition of head of household for purposes of the senior citizens' tax abatement for rent-controlled and regulated property.

  •   A.7536a (Sanders) — Creates a New York State interagency council for services to persons who are deaf, deaf-blind or hard of hearing.

  •   A.8896a (Morelle)/S.5692a (Alesi) — Requires all insurance policies to provide a certain amount of coverage for hearing aids.

  •   A.9377 (Cahill)/S.4393a (Hannon) — Provides for the level of medical assistance for certain durable medical equipment for Medicare beneficiaries.

  •   A.9913a (Cahill)/S.7342 (Maziarz) — Creates the most integrated setting coordinating council, which will develop and oversee the implementation of a comprehensive plan to ensure that people of all ages with disabilities receive the services they need in the most integrated settings possible.

  •   A.10376 (Cahill) — Expands the coverage under the elderly pharmaceutical insurance coverage program to include certain persons with disabilities.

  •   A.10495 (Cahill)/S.4106 (Libous) — Prohibits visual observation of a patient by unnecessary personnel without consent.

  •   A.10558a (Cahill) — Requires at least one voting machine per polling place be accessible for voting to the visually and mobility impaired.

  •   A.10623 (Cahill) — Requires polling places to be accessible to physically disabled voters.

  •   A.10638 (Cahill) — Establishes a Medicaid waiver program for people with disabilities of any age currently not eligible for any existing Medicaid waivers.

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