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: September 1, 2003
Contact: Kathy Keyser
(845) 338-9610

Assemblymember Cahill's Able Column - Medicaid Buy-In Goes into Effect - September 2003

At last, New Yorkers with disabilities can enter the job market without having to fear the loss of their Medicaid benefits. Thanks to a great deal of work by disabilities advocates, New York's new Medicaid Buy-In program finally went into effect on July 1, 2003, after being temporarily delayed by the Governor.

Initially slated to begin on April 1, 2003, the program allows people with disabilities to "buy into" the federal Medicaid program by paying premiums based on income, while participants earning less than $25,000 a year will not have to pay a premium. All other individuals will have to pay a premium based on the sliding scale set forth in this legislation. Persons eligible to participate in this program must:

  • have a disability that meets the medical criteria to qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI),
  • be working in a paid position, either full or part-time,
  • be a New Yorker between the ages of 16 and 64,
  • have a gross annual income of no more than $46,170 (250 percent of the federal poverty level) for a household of one ($61,870 for a household of two), and
  • have non-exempt resources that do not exceed $10,000.

We recognize how important it is for people with disabilities to be able to work and still maintain Medicaid benefits. We understand that, unlike most other insurance plans, Medicaid pays for such life-sustaining items as home health care, durable medical equipment and prescriptions.

People with disabilities should not be forced to turn down jobs because of the risk of losing their health benefits. It has been a priority of ours to ensure that New Yorkers with disabilities receive the quality health care they need while leading independent lives.

Applications are now being taken from individuals who are interested in enrolling in the Medicaid Buy-In program. If you or a loved one might qualify, I urge you to contact your local Social Services office for further information.

While I am very much encouraged that this important program is finally underway in New York, I believe that still more needs to be done to allow people with disabilities to work at a competitive wage and save for the future. That is why this past June I introduced a Medicaid Buy-In Enhancement bill (A.7523/Cahill) that adds much-needed improvements to the current Buy-In program.

This legislation would expand the current program to allow people with disabilities to earn up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, exclude spousal income when determining a person's eligibility and increase the non-exempt asset cap from $10,000 to $40,000. Be assured that I will continue the fight for these improvements as next year's legislative session approaches.

Assemblymember Kevin A. Cahill is the Chair of the New York State Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities. The Task Force office telephone number is 518-455-4592. Or you can write by email at or by regular mail at New York State Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities, Agency Building 4, 13th Floor, Albany, NY 12248.