Pro Publica: NY Lawmakers Discuss Tougher Oversight for Nurses

by Rosalind Adams, Jessica Huseman and Daniela Porat, 4/26

New York legislators say they are discussing how to tighten regulation of nurses after a recent ProPublica investigation found dangerous gaps in the state’s oversight of the profession.

Deborah Glick, who chairs the Committee on Higher Education in the state assembly, said she has asked the education department to determine what powers it needs to better oversee the profession. Nurses are regulated by the Office of the Professions, which is part of the state’s education department.

 “We’ve been having conversations about background checks and fingerprinting,” she said, adding that the changes, along with other potential solutions, would require a legislative fix, though she did not specify what might be proposed.

Albany Times-Union: With program running, advocates look for medical marijuana expansion

By Matthew Hamilton, 4/12

Medical marijuana advocates are again striking up their calls to expand the state’s program as some lawmakers say the program needs more gestation time after officially going live in January

The advocates and lawmakers pushing expansion have pointed to a lackluster first three months for the program, with 526 physicians registered through the state to participate and 2,675 patients certified to use the drug by their doctors. At the same time, dispensaries run by the five companies licensed to sell the drug have opened gradually rather than at once in January.

WBFO Radio: Medical marijuana supporters call for fix to New York law

By Karen DeWitt, 4/13 – Audio clip at link

Proponents of New York’s new medical marijuana law say so far, it’s barely functioning, and they say major revisions are necessary to allow more than just a tiny number of patients to benefit.

Kate Hintz and her daughter Morgan, at a press conference to ask for a fix for New York’s new medical marijuana law.  (Credit Karen DeWitt)

New York’s limited medical marijuana began in January, but advocates and patients say it has not worked out as well as they hoped. They say strict limits on diseases that are eligible for treatment, no insurance coverage, and near complete lack of doctors who have undergone the required training and will prescribe the medicine has left them frustrated.

Politico NY: Assembly health committee advances medical marijuana bills

By Josefa Velasquez, 4/12/16


Assembly Member Richard Gottfried (AP Photo / Tim Roske)

ALBANY — The Assembly health committee on Monday advanced two pieces of legislation that would expand the state’s medical marijuana program.

The bills, sponsored by Assemblyman Dick Gottfried, who chairs the chamber’s health committee and is one of the architects of the state’s so-called Compassionate Care Act, would eliminate the requirement that the registered organizations charged with growing and distributing marijuana be vertically integrated and would double the amount of companies in the state’s program.

Gottfried’s bills would allow medical marijuana companies to expand the program from the four companies that are currently operating in the state, to eight.

Press Release – Assembly Health Committee Update

Assembly Health Committee Update:
New Legislation Advanced to Improve Access to Medical Marijuana

The Assembly Committee on Health favorably reported 10 bills at its meeting on April 5. The Health Committee had not met since its March 1 meeting because of work on the state budget.

The Committee reported bills to expand public access to epinephrine auto-injectors (“epi-pens”); establish age-appropriate sex education grant programs; and require apartment building owners to develop and distribute smoking policies.

The Committee also reported three bills to improve the 2014 Compassionate Care Act medical marijuana law and expand patient access. Changes required by the Executive as conditions of signing the bill, and Health Department regulations, drastically limited the scope of the program. The three bills reported by the Committee would:

  • Allow physician assistants and nurse practitioners to prescribe medical marijuana (today they are already fully authorized to write prescriptions for even the strongest and most dangerous controlled substances).
  • Expand the list of eligible conditions. The conditions added in this bill were initially passed by the Assembly but deleted from the final law at the Executive’s insistence.
  • Create an advisory committee to assist the Commissioner in making regulations, advise the Commissioner on clinical matters, and review appeals of denials of patient or caregiver applications; require that medical marijuana regulations conform to the legislative intent and have a valid clinical or public safety basis.

Real Estate Weekly: Hudson River Park a magnet for construction

April 1, 2016

Roughly $8 billion in construction has occurred within a quarter mile of Hudson River Park between 2000 and 2014 – a fifth of the area’s overall property value. And during that same period, while the youth population decreased in Manhattan by 8 percent, the area’s youth population grew 66 percent and senior population by 112 percent. Those are just several of the findings in a new report released today that examines how Hudson River Park has helped transform Manhattan’s Far West Side.

Westchester Magazine: High on Hope

by Scott Simone; Featuring Photography By Dan Sagarin

Today isn’t a great day for Morgan Jones. On good days, you can find the 5-year-old girl beaming her infectious smile. That smile glows when her mother, Kathryn Hintz, tickles her; it’s there when listening to music, especially while riding in the car. If her mother sings along with her, the smile widens.

But today, an ear infection has Morgan a bit crabby. Her nurse, Annette Ortiz, reclines on a couch in the family’s bucolic North Salem home, gently rocking Morgan. Hintz sits opposite the pair, talking in a smooth voice to comfort Morgan. The mother and daughter share a host of similarities. Hintz often flashes the same room-brightening smile. They both have captivatingly blue eyes. A flock of light, curly hair crowns both of their heads.

More important, though, is what they don’t share: a deletion on Morgan’s second chromosome, a rare genetic condition caused by the loss of material from one of the body’s 46 chromosomes. That statistically near-impossible deletion has led to a hurricane of health problems, none more complicated than Dravet syndrome. This incredibly rare form of intractable epilepsy—meaning it can’t be controlled with medication—subjects Morgan to several seizures a day, ranging from short head-drops or blinks to convulsive, turning-blue seizures.

Morgan Jones (standing), a 5-year-old from North Salem who suffers from a rare form of intractable epilepsy, has tried every FDA-approved medication to no avail. She is an ideal candidate for medical marijuana, according to her neurologist, Dr. Steven Wolf (seated).

VIDEO – Capital Tonight re: Medicaid budget

I joined Liz Benjamin on Time Warner Cable’s Capital Tonight for an update on New York City Medicaid negotiations, one of the key topics in this year’s budget debate.  Video is here.

Journal-News: Medical marijuana dispensary to open in Yonkers

By David Robinson, 3/30

Etain LLC is poised to open a medical marijuana dispensary in Yonkers, and Mayor Mike Spano said the city differed from other communities that tried to block access to the controversial business.

“Many communities in New York state, and I think we all know this, have worked to keep dispensaries out and we did not; we worked to bring this dispensary here,” Spano said.

WNYT-TV: Brain Injury Patients Rally to Keep Vital Care

See the video here: WNYT News Channel 13

ALBANY – For the first time in its history, the Brain Injury Association of New York rallied at the State Capitol.

The gathering on Wednesday was a final push to convince lawmakers about the need to fund the specialized treatment this group argues, is so vital to their independence and recovery.

The fact that Laura Casellini is here to celebrate her 24th birthday is a milestone that wasn’t assured.

Five years ago the car she was riding in was slammed into by a drunk driver.

Still recovering from a traumatic brain injury, the East Greenbush woman credits the intensive and coordinated services she receives for her recovery.

“I have had a very good recovery,” she noted.

When asked if it would have been as good without the care, she replied, “It would not have been as good. I would have been stuck in a nursing home.”

In New York, services for brain injury patients like Casellini are provided through special waivers. It’s a system of payment and care the governor’s office wants to do away with, transitioning this population to managed care.

“140,000 New Yorkers and of them, 3,000 of them are on traumatic brain injury, TBI waiver,” explained Eileen Reardon, the executive director of the Brain Injury Association of New York State.

Fear about losing services and careful coordination of those services brought the Brain Injury Association of New York State, BIANYS, to the state Capitol for its first ever “Advocacy Day.”

They want to be sure their voices are heard in advance of the April 1 deadline for the state Health Department to release its transition plan.

They’re counting on support from leaders in the state Senate and Assembly.

“However the program is structured, whether it stays outside managed care or moves into it, that the unique, important elements of the TBI waiver are guaranteed in law and protected against tampering,” noted Democratic Assem. Richard Gottfried the Health Committee Chair.

Money to continue the services has been recommended by both the Assembly and Senate Health Committees.

However, anything can happen between now and when the governor presents his budget.

It’s still to be seen what the transition plan looks like when it’s released April 1.

NewsChannel 13’s Benita Zahn will keep you posted.