Daily Freeman: Support continues to grow for the legalization of medical marijuana

By Paula Ann Mitchell, Daily Freeman.

ROSENDALE – Jen Pinto was in the prime of her life.

She had a good job, a nice home and a positive outlook on her future.

What happened to her at age 40 would change all that and severely diminish her quality of life.

Assembly Health Committee Update

        The Assembly Committee on Health favorably reported 7 bills at its meeting on Monday, April 7, including legislation expanding access to the anti-overdose drug Naloxone and banning artificial trans fats in food establishments statewide.  For more information on a particular bill, please contact the sponsor listed after the description.

Provider Participation in Child Health Plus Plans - Prohibits insurance companies that offer Child Health Plus from requiring a participating health care provider in its Child Health Plus plan to also sign up for the insurance company’s other health plans.  (A4045, Pretlow)

Upscale Buildings Deny Workers a Living Wage

Chelsea Now, April 11, 2014

Hundreds of union workers marched across the High Line alongside non-union workers, elected officials and local advocates on April 10 to call for better wages for the non-union employees of numerous luxury residential buildings in West Chelsea.

Non-union doormen, porters and concierges at ultra-wealthy residences around the High Line make substantially less than their unionized counterparts, and many don’t even get health insurance.

“I work 40 hours a week, sometimes more, but I still can’t afford to live on my own,” said Manuel Matos, 25, who makes $12 per hour with no benefits as a concierge at 540 West 28th Street, which is owned and operated by the Ekstein Development company.

Health Commissioner Nirav Shah Stepping Down

Statement by Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried

        I wish Dr. Shah the best, but his departure is a loss for New York. He has done great cutting-edge work to move health and health care forward for New York and helped make the Health Department more open and responsive. He has promoted expanded health coverage and integrated and coordinated care, and strengthened our use of data and evidence-based guidelines. Personally, it has been a pleasure working with him and developing our friendship.

        I look forward to continuing to work with Dr. Howard Zucker, who is stepping in as commissioner.


Times-Union: Raising a life-saving list’s profile

Raising a Life-Saving List’s Profile
By Casey Seiler, Albany Times-Union

Advocates for organ, eye and tissue donation — including several whose lives have been changed by such donations — gathered at the Capitol on Tuesday to thank state lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo for instituting changes they hope will boost New York’s worst-in-the-nation sign-up rate.

Currently, only 22 percent of eligible state residents (roughly 3.4 million people) are enrolled in the Donate Life Registry — a number that Assemblyman Richard Gottfried , D-Manhattan, called “shocking.” Meanwhile, New York has the third highest number of patients waiting for life-saving transplant surgery.

AP: New York Adopts Measures to Improve Patient Handling

New York Adopts Measures to Improve Patient Handling
By Michael Virtanen, Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. – (AP) — New York is directing health officials and hospitals to identify best practices for safely handling patients in an effort to reduce rough lifting and better protect staff from back injuries.

Legislation proposed by the Cuomo administration and approved by lawmakers in the state budget will establish a working group at the Health Department to review national data and demonstration programs, identify best practices and report by July 2015.

New York hospitals are required to establish committees, consider those measures and establish their own safe patient handling programs by 2017.

Newsday: Medical Marijuana Shapes Up as Prominent 2014 Issue

Medical Marijuana Shapes Up as the Most Prominent 2014 Albany Issue
By Yancey Roy, Newsday

ALBANY – Medical marijuana is looming as the most prominent issue that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and state lawmakers face in the second half of the 2014 legislative session, with proponents stepping up efforts to make New York the 21st state to legalize it.

It’s part of a nationwide effort to loosen marijuana laws for patients, including those suffering from cancer and epilepsy.

Community, Electeds Protest Out-of-Scale Luxury Condo Development

The Save 16th Street Coalition, community members, and elected officials rallied to protest the construction of a mid-block 11-story luxury building on West 16th Street that will engulf the historic French Evangelical Church, built in 1835.  Einhorn Development Group bought the lot for $4 million from the church and originally told the community the plan was to build a six-story building, equivalent in height to the rest of the historic block that promised to preserve the architectural integrity of the church and the charming tree-lined street.

Health Budget Update

Dear Friend:

On Monday, March 31, the Legislature passed the State budget for 2014-15.  As Chair of the Assembly Health Committee, I want to let you know about a few of the many important achievements this year.  Contrary to press reports, the budget process is not just “three men in a room.”  Most of it is hard work by legislators, staff, advocates, and the community that can lead to real progress on major issues.  Here are some examples:

Protecting New Yorkers with Bleeding Disorders

On March 24, I was proud to receive the New York State Bleeding Disorders Coalition’s 1st Annual Fred Winters Memorial Award.  The Coalition is a partnership of non-profits who advocate for New Yorkers with bleeding disorders such as hemophilia.

As Chair of the Assembly Health Committee, I worked last year to pass legislation expanding coverage of blood clotting products on an outpatient basis under Child Health Plus.  Although these were covered under CHP for inpatient care, outpatient coverage is faster, more accessible, and less expensive than requiring constant hospital visits for treatment.  Governor Cuomo signed the bill into law in October and it takes effect in April. 

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Meeting with representatives of the New York State Bleeding Disorders Coalition.  Credit: New York State Assembly Photography