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: April 1, 2002
Contact: Kathy Keyser
(845) 338-9610

Assemblymember Cahill's Able Column - New York State Must Come into Compliance with Olmstead Decision - April 2002

Since being appointed to Chair the Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities last year, one of my top priorities is to ensure that New York State finally complies with the U.S. Supreme Court's Olmstead decision, which declares that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires people with disabilities to be served in integrated settings most appropriate to their needs. In the Olmstead ruling, the Supreme Court determined that the unnecessary segregation of individuals with disabilities in institutions may be discriminatory and a violation of civil rights.

Last year, the Task Force held a hearing to reach out to New York's disability community and organizations serving them. Our goal was to help determine how New York State can enable disabled persons to receive services in the most integrated settings possible. Upon reviewing such testimony, an alarming lack of ADA compliance at the state level emerged. As part of our fact-finding effort, I surveyed several New York State agencies serving people with disabilities, asking to be briefed on current integration policies. Surprisingly, only one agency replied in a reasonable manner.

I also joined disability advocates in calling upon the Department of Health to apply for grants made available through the federal Health Care Financing Administration to assist states in improving long-term support systems. Unfortunately, because the DOH officials waited until the last minute to apply for these grants and did not seek enough support from the disability community, its application was denied. Had it been awarded, these monies would have gone a long way towards helping New York State implement the recent Olmstead decision.

Additionally, I joined the Coalition to Implement Olmstead in New York (CTIONY) in a press conference and meeting on February 5-6, 2002 in Albany to proclaim the joining of disability and senior communities in an effort to enforce this groundbreaking court decision. I commend the efforts of these groups in forming a united front to advance our cause. With such support at the ready, I announced my intention to introduce legislation to require state agencies do something they should be doing on their own - providing equal opportunities for every New Yorker, regardless of age or level of disability. The measure, Assembly Bill #9913, would authorize the Department of Health to establish a plan for integration and independence of all New Yorkers with disabilities and other long term care needs. This plan would be developed and implemented in consultation with other state departments and offices.

There are many reasons why this basic obligation should be undertaken immediately, including the advantage to all New Yorkers when disabled residents are fully integrated into our communities. I am dedicated to making Olmstead implementation a reality in New York State, offering people with disabilities increased opportunities to work, have full, rich lives and become more active participants in local affairs. At the same time, such a plan can reduce spending on health care costs.

In recent months, I asked you to join me in sensitizing New York State government. It worked. The adoption of the International Building Code in New York will include the important access requirements we demanded together. Now I ask you to join me in urging the Governor and my colleagues in the Senate to recognize the far-reaching importance of this matter. Be assured that I will continue this fight, both legislatively and through continued encouragement to state agencies. Contact Governor Pataki and your Senate and Assembly representatives to lend your voice to those who have already worked so hard to bring this much needed change to fruition. Together, we can make a difference.

Assemblymember Kevin A. Cahill is the Chair of the New York State Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities. Anyone with questions, comments or suggestions can reach the Task Force office at 518-455-4592 or by email at