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: August 25, 2004
Contact: Kathy Keyser
(845) 338-9610

Silver, Cahill Tout the Merits of Medicaid Waiver Bill

Measure would ensure people with disabilities receive medical, health care services

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblymember Kevin Cahill, Chair of the Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities, applaud the passage of landmark legislation that would allow the state to provide home-and community-based services to individuals who would otherwise require nursing facility care. This measure was passed by both houses of the State Legislature in August and is awaiting Senate delivery of the bill to the Governor for his signature.

Provisions of A.11798/S.7715, sponsored by Cahill, aim to reverse New York's current institutional bias by directing the 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 waiver will permit New York to serve individuals with disabilities in more integrated settings instead of providing more-costly nursing home care.

New York State already has Medicaid waiver programs in place that save taxpayers millions of dollars while allowing people with specific disabling conditions to live more independent lives in their own communities. It has been estimated that, should the Governor sign this measure into law, Medicaid expenditures could be cut by more than $25 million in the first year alone and over $380 million could be saved over a five year period.

Silver and Cahill noted that this groundbreaking legislation, if signed into law, would help bring New York State into compliance with the 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. The 1999 Olmstead decision promotes serving people with disabilities in community based settings rather than institutionalizing them against their wills.

"It has long been the mission of the Assembly Majority to ensure that all New Yorkers have equal access and opportunity in our great state," said Speaker Silver (D-Manhattan). "Seriously addressing the needs of people with disabilities means more than simply discouraging poor treatment and discrimination. It means ensuring reasonable accommodations and modifications are made to provide all people equal opportunity to participate in programs, services and activities."

"I have been working on several initiatives to bring our great state into Olmstead and ADA compliance since I was first appointed chair of the Task Force on People with Disabilities," Mr. Cahill (D-Ulster/Dutchess) said. "This important measure will have a profound effect on our efforts towards this goal."

Highlighting past victories for the disabilities community such as the establishment of the Most Integrated Setting Coordinating Council in 2002, Silver and Cahill expressed hope that 2004 will be noted as the year that people with disabilities will finally be able to obtain the services they need to live in their homes and their communities.

"All New Yorkers, including those with disabilities, have a right to be fully integrated, participatory members of society," Mr. Cahill said. "Providing funding for locally based services will further our goal of giving all an opportunity to lead full and productive lives in our communities," he concluded.