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: July 16, 2004
Contact: Kathy Keyser
(845) 338-9610

New York State Assembly Passes Critical Legislation to Integrate People with Disabilities

Assemblymember Kevin A. Cahill (D-Ulster, Dutchess), Chair of the Task Force on People with Disabilities, announced the passage of legislation enabling people with disabilities of all ages to get the services they need to live in their home and community in recognition of the New York State Assembly Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day held today in Albany.

The Assembly passed a measure that directs the New York State Department of Health to apply for a federal waiver of Medicaid rules, which will allow the state to provide services to people with disabilities in more integrated settings who would otherwise need more-costly nursing home care (A.11350-A/Cahill). This legislation passed the Senate on June 7, 2004 and will now be sent to the Governor.

"Today we passed several measures that will dramatically enhance the lives of disabled New Yorkers and offer protections to this community that should have been put in place long ago," Mr. Cahill said. "We have done some tremendous work this year, but I am particularly proud and honored to have played a role in the passage of this bill. People with disabilities face many trials and tribulations as part of their everyday lives that we as state legislators can do very little about. However, we can make sure that New Yorkers with disabilities are never segregated against their wills."

Assemblymember Cahill noted that this legislation, if signed into law, will help bring New York State into full compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court Olmstead decision, which states that the unnecessary segregation of individuals is unconstitutional and could be considered a violation of a person's civil rights. In addition, the waiver is expected to save state and local taxpayers millions of dollars.

"I have been working on several initiatives to bring our great state into Olmstead compliance since I was first appointed Chair of the Task Force on People with Disabilities," Mr. Cahill said. "In 2002 we were successful at getting the Most Integrated Setting Coordinating Council established into law. 2004 will be noted as the year that people with disabilities will finally be able to get the services they need to live in their own homes and communities if the Governor signs this Medicaid waiver legislation. All New Yorkers, including those with disabilities, have a right to be fully integrated, participatory members of society and given the opportunity to lead full, productive lives in our local communities."

The Most Integrated Setting Coordinating Council is responsible for developing and overseeing 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. This Council, which began its work in September 2003, is currently meeting regularly in accordance with its mandate.

Assemblymember Cahill also announced that the Assembly is expected to take up another critical measure to people with disabilities on June 17, 2004 that prohibits reproductive cloning and ensures that therapeutic cloning and stem cell research are conducted in a socially responsible manner (A.6249-A/Silver).

"Tomorrow, thanks to the bold leadership of Speaker Silver, we will be voting on a measure that is a gigantic step forward in the effort to help prevent and treat the many diseases and conditions, such as spinal cord injuries, Parkinson's disease, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease that afflict millions of New Yorkers," Mr. Cahill said. "New York State should be taking every measure available to make the day when there are treatments and cures for many of the chronic, degenerative and acute conditions that disable so many people a reality. It's time that stem cell research and therapeutic cloning become acceptable research techniques so that we can eliminate the tremendous human suffering and the loss of billions of dollars associated with these conditions."