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: November 5, 2004
Contact: Kathy Keyser
(845) 338-9610

Cahill Lauds Enactment of Medicaid Waiver Bill

Calls for additional measures aimed at full integration of people with disabilities

Assemblymember Kevin Cahill, Chair of the Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities, today hailed the enactment of landmark legislation that will allow New York State to provide home and community-based services to people with disabilities who would otherwise require institutional care.

The bill (A.11798/S.7715), which was passed unanimously by both houses of the Legislature in August and was vigorously fought for by New York's disabilities advocates, was signed into law October 19th by Governor George Pataki.

In response to a state bias towards institutionalizing persons with disabilities, the new law, introduced by Mr. Cahill, will help bring New York State into compliance with the 1999 U.S. Supreme Court Olmstead decision which states that the unnecessary segregation of individuals with disabilities is unconstitutional and could be considered a violation of a person's civil rights.

Provisions of the new law direct the New York State Department of Health to seek a federal waiver of Medicaid rules to allow Medicaid reimbursement for services not covered by the traditional Medicaid program. Such services might include case management, personal care, independent living skills training, environmental accessibility adaptations, community transition, assistive technology, adult day health care, staff for safety assurance, non-medical support needed to maintain independence and respite services. This law will allow these services to be provided in integrated settings to many people living with disabilities such as Multiple Sclerosis, Spinal Cord Injury, Muscular Dystrophy and Alzheimer's disease. In the past, people facing these situations have been denied these vital services in their own communities.

"I am pleased that New Yorkers with disabilities will finally have access to the services they need to live independently within their own communities," Assemblymember Cahill (D-Ulster/Dutchess) said. "It has long been the tradition of the Assembly to ensure full integration and participation for all in every aspect of society. This measure is just one step in the right direction towards protecting the rights of people with disabilities in this state."

"Furthermore, gaining the federal waiver is just common sense reform in realizing significant Medicaid savings," Mr. Cahill said. "It has been estimated that if just one percent, or 1,300 of the individuals currently residing in nursing homes were transitioned into integrated settings, this measure could cut Medicaid expenditures by more than $25 million in the first year alone and more than $380 million could be saved during a five-year period."

Noting the 2002 establishment of the Most Integrated Setting Coordinating Council, another important initiative originating in the Assembly, Cahill expressed hope that additional protections to guarantee integration for people with disabilities will be offered as recommendations when the council issues its first report.

"After months of anxious anticipation, many New Yorkers with disabilities now will be free to live in their own communities," Mr. Cahill said. "But we must further our commitment to New York's disabilities community by, among other things, improving accessible housing, reinforcing protections currently offered under the ADA and ensuring accessible voting for people with disabilities. I look forward to the Assembly's continued leadership on this mission as we proceed through the 2005 Legislative Session and hope I can count on the Senate and Governor to join us."