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: December 2004
Contact: Kathy Keyser
(845) 338-9610

Assemblymember Cahill's Able Column
Task Force Plans for the 2005 Legislative Session
December 2004

As we approach the 2005 Legislative Session, I am pleased with our past successes and optimistic about the matters that we plan to address and build upon. Since this issue focuses on education, I would like to discuss Task Force plans for the upcoming session and invite you to join with New York's disability advocacy community to educate other legislators and the general public regarding the critical nature of what lies ahead. A united front consisting of large groups of individuals has been proven to be very successful in winning legislative victories.

As you may be aware, our Medicaid waiver legislation, allowing people to live in their own homes and within their own communities, was signed into law on October 19, 2004. The technical explanation of this new law is that it directs the New York State Department of Health to seek a federal Nursing Facility Transition and Diversion Medicaid Waiver to allow reimbursement for services not covered by the traditional program. What it means is more money for community-based services and a savings in the cost of institutional care. This law, which was fought for vigorously by many disabilities advocates, will go a long way to help New York State comply with the 1999 U.S. Supreme Court Olmstead decision.

In other business, we are also eagerly awaiting the first report from the Most Integrated Setting Coordinating Council (MISCC), which we expect will deliver several additional recommendations aimed at improving Olmstead compliance in New York. As you may know, the MISCC was established in 2002 by a bill we initiated, also with the extraordinary help and participation of advocates across the state, to develop and oversee the implementation of a comprehensive plan ensuring that people of all ages with disabilities receive the services they need in the most integrated settings possible, as mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Olmstead decision.

These legislative successes will go a long way toward reversing New York's institutional bias. Still, we are preparing to take several additional steps to ensure that people with disabilities are able to obtain services in the most integrated setting in such areas as housing, employment and education.

The Task Force has been busy drafting new legislation and formulating next year's agenda. We plan to advance efforts to, among other things, improve accessible housing, reinforce protections currently offered under the ADA and ensure accessible voting for people with disabilities. Additionally, we will fight, as always, for the funding necessary to continue running the programs that New Yorkers with disabilities rely on to obtain the services they need. Unfortunately, these tend to be the same areas that the Governor favors cutting.

Clearly, we have our work cut out for us. As always, I look forward to working with many of you in our continued mission to improve life in New York State for people with disabilities.

Assemblymember Kevin A. Cahill, Chair
New York State Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities
Agency Building 4, 13th Floor, Albany, NY 12248