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Who I Am

Richard N. Gottfried represents the 75th Assembly District, encompassing the neighborhoods of Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, Midtown, the Flatiron District, NoMad, and part of the Lincoln Square and Kips Bay areas in Manhattan.

He is a leading health policy-maker not only in New York but also nationally, having chaired the Assembly Health Committee since 1987.  He is also a leading progressive voice on non-health issues including LGBTQ rights, gender equity, affordable housing, and civil liberties, and a strong advocate for the needs of his Assembly district.

He was a major architect of New York’s landmark managed care reforms, and continues to fight for stronger protections for consumers and health care providers, and for public support for universal access to quality, affordable health care.

In the Legislature, he has been the leading proponent of patient autonomy, especially in end-of-life care, and of reproductive freedom.  He sponsors the “N.Y. Health Act,” a bill to create a single-payer health coverage plan for New York State.  Each year, during budget deliberations, he has fought to protect and increase funding for Medicaid, school health clinics, HIV/AIDS services, and other health concerns.

Highlights of his successes on health include the passage of:

  • The Prenatal Care Assistance Program for low income women;
  • The Child Health Plus Program, which allows low- and moderate-income parents to get free or low-cost health insurance for their children;
  • The law that gives patients access to information about a doctor’s background and malpractice record;
  • Family Health Plus, which provides free health coverage for low-income adults;
  • Legalization of medical use of marijuana under a doctor’s supervision;
  • The Health Care Proxy Law, which allows people to designate an agent to make health care decisions for them if they lose decision-making capacity;
  • Simplification of enrollment in publicly-financed programs (such as Medicaid);
  • The Family Health Care Decision Act, which allows family members to make health care decisions when a person is incapacitated and has not filled out a health care proxy;
  • The HIV Testing and Confidentiality Law; and
  • Laws that promotes stronger primary and preventive care and formation of accountable care organizations (ACOs).

Gottfried introduced the first same-sex marriage bill in the Assembly in 2003, and was a co-sponsor of the bill that became law in 2011.  He also was the Assembly sponsor of the Gender Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) that became law in 2019, which prohibits discrimination based on gender expression or identity (transgender), and a bill to prohibit New York-licensed health professionals from cooperating in the torture or improper treatment of prisoners.

Gottfried was the author of the 1998 Hudson River Park law that establishes the park and protects the River and the waterfront for all New Yorkers.  He sponsored the legislation that created the Javits Convention Center and the law to expand it.

He is a leading advocate in the Legislature for civil liberties, reproductive freedom and civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons.  He has been repeatedly named to the New York Civil Liberties Union’s Honor Roll.  He was named “Environmental Legislator of the Year” by the Environmental Advocates, and has been honored by the Family Planning Advocates three times.

Mr. Gottfried was the author of legislation to provide legal services for the disabled, strengthen the criminal laws against hazardous waste violators, provide health insurance coverage for midwife services, strengthen Small Claims Court, prevent illegal evictions, and reform the J-51 tax exemption program.  He authored the first bill on public campaign financing, which was the model for NYC campaign finance system.

Mr. Gottfried was a pioneer in enacting legislation to recognize and protect the rights of crime victims.  He was an architect of the 1978 Omnibus Crime Act and wrote laws to reform the grand jury system, strengthen the rape laws, and decriminalize marijuana.  He drafted the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 1976 and sponsored revisions of the laws on foster care, adoption, and child abuse.

Mr. Gottfried was first elected to the Assembly in 1970, at the age of 23, while a student at Columbia Law School.  He was born in New York City in 1947.  He is a graduate of Stuyvesant High School, Cornell University (BA, 1968), and Columbia Law School (JD, 1973).  He is a lawyer, but does not maintain a private practice.  He works full time as a legislator, and lives in Manhattan with his wife, Louise, a nursery school teacher.  Their son Michael and his wife have two daughters.

He is a fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine, and a member of the American Public Health Association, the New York Civil Liberties Union, the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, the Art Students League, and the China Institute.

He chairs the Assembly’s Health Committee and is a member of the Higher Education and Rules committees and the Assembly Steering Committee. He is the “dean” of the Manhattan Assembly Delegation.  He previously served as Deputy Majority Leader; Assistant Majority Leader; chair of the Assembly committees on Codes (covering the criminal justice system), and Children and Families; and chair of the Assembly task forces on the Homeless, Campaign Finance Reform, and Crime Victims.