City & State: State single-payer health care could be supported by Cuomo

By Grace Segers, October 5

Last month, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the once and perhaps future presidential candidate, unveiled legislation to create a single-payer health care system. U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, another potential presidential candidate in 2020, was one of 16 senators to sign on as a co-sponsor of the Medicare for All Act. And Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who’s also on short lists of likely Democratic presidential contenders, offered his support for the proposal as well.

In an interview on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show,” Cuomo called the federal plan, which would make health care universal and publicly funded by the taxpayer, “a good idea.”

Truthout: As GOP Attacks Health Care, Movement for Single-Payer Grows Across Country

By Michael Corcoran, 9/26

As Republicans seek to throw millions of Americans off insurance this week, progressives are, once again, playing defense. Activists are going full bore to stop the Cassidy-Graham bill, which is opposed by virtually every health organization of significance. The legislation, which grows more contemptible with each passing day, would lead to about 41,600 deaths a year, according to a report released yesterday by the Annals of Internal Medicine.

“We cannot be silent while Congress plays political games with the lives of our patients,” said Dr. Carol Paris, president of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), in a statement sent to Truthout.

Indeed, the GOP’s frightening efforts are a reminder why it is vital to have a movement for health care justice that seeks to end the commodification of health care, one way or another.

The good news is that this movement is growing, as is evident from the fiery opposition to Trumpcare. And this movement is fueling growing momentum for single-payer health care, not only with Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All bill, but also across the states. Passing a statewide plan has proven difficult, with recent efforts in several states either killed or stalled. These disappointments have been a source of frustration for advocates and cannon fodder for the for-profit health industry. It has become almost impossible to read a critique of single-payer without a talking point like: If it didn’t work in Vermont, how could it work anywhere?

However, these arguments are deeply flawed and misrepresent not only the battle over statewide health care in Vermont, but also how single-payer works at any level. The failures to win universal care in Vermont and Colorado are indeed considerable setbacks. But do they reflect systemic reasons why a public, universal health care system is impossible? Is the fight for a statewide system under these principles dead?

Not according to organizers, legislators and medical professionals in five states who spoke with Truthout. Despite setbacks, these organizers continue to advance the cause of health care justice. Their approaches include increased grassroots pressure (in California and New York), new policies which aim to build toward universal care one sector at a time (Vermont), and efforts to measure the impacts of single-payer in real time (Massachusetts) to better understand and educate stakeholders about the impacts of the policy.

Times-Union: Legislation would mandate coverage of prostate cancer screenings

By Matt Hamilton, 9/27

ALBANY — State legislation introduced last week would mandate that insurers cover in full prostate cancer screenings for men who are middle-aged and older, in the same vein as a state mandate for breast cancer screening coverage.

The bill from state Sens. Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville, and Kemp Hannon, R-Long Island, and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, D-Manhattan, would bar insurers from charging an annual deductible or co-pay for prostate cancer screenings for men 40 and older with a family history of such cancer, and also men 50 and over regardless of whether they show symptoms of cancer.

“This vital public health legislation will save lives by removing obstacles for prostate cancer screening which will encourage more men to take charge of their health before their cancer becomes worse,” Tedisco said in a statement. “This bill also will save taxpayers money in the long run by preventing unnecessary hospitalizations and burdensome medical expenses through early detection and treatment.”

In 2016, Gov. Andrew Cuomo sought and won similar coverage of breast cancer screenings. His advocacy came after his longtime partner, Food Network star Sandra Lee, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015. She underwent a double mastectomy and had multiple follow-up surgeries, though she said in September 2015 she was cancer free.

Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi said the the administration would review the prostate cancer bill.

Watertown Daily Times: Bill ensures free access to personal health records

By Jen Jackson, 9/19

ALBANY — A new law signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last week aims to streamline the application process for Social Security, veteran’s benefits, disability benefits and more.

The bill ensures New Yorkers free access to their own medical records for those applying for government programs like Medicaid benefits and Social Security.

It was previously prohibited by the state to charge people who are unable to pay for their medical records.

However, determining who qualifies as unable to pay the various fees was considered “complicated” and an imperfect process by architects of the bill. “Current law does provide free access,” the bill reads. “However, the fee waiver is routinely ignored and is poorly enforced.”

“We have a right to our own medical records,” Assembly Health Committee Chair and bill sponsor Richard N. Gottfried said in a public statement. “Paying for hundreds of pages is a barrier to getting public benefits for low income New Yorkers.”

Times-Union: Cuomo signals support for single-payer health care

By Matthew Hamilton, 9/19/17

ALBANY – Gov. Andrew Cuomo signaled support of single-payer health care at both the federal and state levels on Monday as Democrats nationwide rally around the issue.

“I think that would be a good idea,” Cuomo said on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show” when asked about a federal “Medicare for All” system.

But single-payer may face a roadblock from Republicans who are weighing another effort to repeal the Obama-era Affordable Healthcare Act.

“I’m afraid (the Republicans) come back with health care reform,” the governor added. “I think we’re in the eye of the storm, where it’s apparently quiet right now on health care. I think the back half of the storm is going to come around.”

Single-payer — the concept that everyone chips in to cover “free” health care coverage when someone needs it — recently gained the support of U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and is a point on which Democrats seeking office next year are touting.

Yet while federal legislation is going nowhere in a Republican-controlled Congress, New York Democrats have pushed for a single-payer system on the state level. The Assembly, which is controlled by Democrats, has passed single-payer legislation repeatedly in recent years. The GOP-held state Senate has not taken up the issue.

Cuomo seemed open to single-payer on the state level, assuming that federal health care funding funneled to the state is maintained. He has bemoaned a proposal that would force the state to pick up the county share of Medicaid costs, lest it risk losing federal funding of an equal amount.

“If they were to pass it and it was not incongruous with what the federal government would do to us, I think it’s a very exciting possibility,” Cuomo said. “But I think it’s going to be a federal play. Our funding system basically relies on Medicaid from the feds. If they turn off that valve or slow that valve, there is no way we’re going to be able to make that up in this state no matter what.”

It’s worth noting that the state would have to raise an estimated $91 billion in revenues to fund a state-level single-payer system, according to Assembly sponsor Dick Gottfried, D-New York. According to Gottfried’s bill, any revenue proposal would need to account for ending of local payments for Medicaid.

Cuomo has been mentioned as a potential Democratic candidate for president in 2020, a year when single-payer may be a key issue for a White House run. On the heels of his trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands on Friday to survey hurricane damage, Cuomo was asked on Lehrer’s program if he is taking actions with an eye toward 2020.

“Once you start with this presidential question, whatever you do, you can interpret as ‘he’s doing that because he wants to run for president,'” Cuomo said. “Whatever I do they could say that.”

He added: “The Virgin Islands, I don’t even believe they vote for president. So if you’re running for president, there are a lot of other places to go besides the Virgin Islands — like Florida would probably be where you would have gone.”

Press Advisory – 9/19 Adult Home Hearing

Contact:                                                     For Immediate Release

Mischa Sogut                                              September 18, 2017

(518) 455-4941
SogutM@nyassembly.gov

PRESS ADVISORY

Ensuring Adult Home Safety & Quality:  
Assembly Public Hearing Will Review Quality, Oversight,
Funding of Adult Homes

On Tuesday, September 19, the Assembly Committees on Health, Aging, and Social Services will hold a public hearing in New York City on safety and quality of adult homes (“adult care facilities”)  A second will be held in Syracuse on September 28 at 11 AM at the John J. Hughes State Office Building.

Adult homes house both aging individuals and those with complex medical or mental health needs, providing supportive services for independent living.  They offer services less medical than nursing homes or enhanced assisted living, but more so than senior living.  Adult homes are funded largely by Medicaid and the New York State Supplement Program (SSP), which provides financial support to the aged and disabled.  Advocates are concerned that the current SSP rate is too low, shortchanging facilities and affecting quality of care.

The hearing will examine the availability and quality of adult home services, including the impact of increased funding for such programs.  Witnesses are expected to include adult home residents, advocates, and operators.

What:

NYS Assembly public hearing on adult homes

Who:

-NYS Assembly Committees on Health, Aging, and Social Services
-Adult home residents
-Resident advocates including self-advocates
-Adult home operators

Where:
Assembly Hearing Room
19th Floor
250 Broadway

New York, NY 10007

The hearing will also be webcast live at:

http://assembly.state.ny.us/av/

When:

Tuesday, September 19
11 AM

###

Crain’s: State Health Department pushes to expand access to medical marijuana

By Jonathan LaMantia, August 11

The state Health Department proposed a slew of fixes to its medical-marijuana program Thursday in order to make it easier for patients and providers to participate.

The department will allow registered companies to sell lotions, ointments, patches, chewable and effervescent tablets, and lozenges. While the new products expand on existing options for consuming marijuana, such as vaporizers and pills, patients still won’t be allowed to smoke it. Those in the industry say the manufactured products allow for precise dosing, while some patient advocates contend that the lack of smokeable marijuana has deterred potential customers from the legal market.

The regulations will ease restrictions on prospective patients interested in going to a dispensary to learn about products or the state program. Currently, patients must already be certified. The state will also shorten a required educational course for providers from four hours to two.

Since late March, when the state added chronic pain as a qualifying condition, the number of certified patients has increased 77%, to about 27,000. The Health Department also began publishing a list of certified practitioners in May. The improvements are positive signs for proponents of the industry who had criticized the Cuomo administration for holding the program back with rules that limited access.

“The administration has clearly turned a corner in its attitude toward the medical-marijuana program in a good way,” Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, a Democrat representing Manhattan, said. “It’s a program that ought to be expanded and moved as close as possible to the way we deal with medications generally.”

State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said the changes were aimed at “improving the facility experience.” For example, one proposed rule allows people other than caregivers to accompany certified patients to a dispensary.

The 10 registered companies will also get relief in the form of changes to regulations around advertising and manufacturing and security requirements.

“We welcome these regulatory changes and are hopeful they will help enhance patient access,” Ari Hoffnung, chief executive of Vireo Health of New York, said in a statement.

The proposed regulations will be published in the state register on Aug. 23, with a 30-day comment period to follow.

Vice News: Inside the Long, Impossible Fight for Socialized Medicine in the US

By Harry Cheadle, August 7

Irene Aguilar knew for a long time that America’s healthcare system was broken. She had worked as a doctor in one of Colorado’s “safety net” hospitals, where the uninsured and seriously ill go for care. Some of her patients were there because they had lost insurance after being laid off, others lost insurance because they divorced a spouse whose job had been providing it. Who qualified for insurance-covered care could seem cruel and nonsensical. The “classic example,” she told me, were diabetics who wound up on dialysis because they couldn’t afford the medications that would let them manage their condition.

“Once you’re on dialysis, you automatically qualify for Medicare. I was furious that I had patients who had worked all their lives and they end up on dialysis and they can’t work anymore and we give them full coverage,” she said. “It seems so fiscally irresponsible that we didn’t help them control diseases and prevent high-cost complications that would lead to premature death—but once they had those complications we paid for them.”

Times-Union: Salmonella alert issued for yellow Maradol papayas

Albany Times-Union

Twelve states including New York are suffering a salmonella outbreak linked to yellow Maradol papayas. Ten cases and one death have been reported in New York City. A total of 47 people were infected across several states. The New York City Health Department, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Food and Drug Administration say the infections have been associated with eating Caribena brand yellow Maradol papayas.

Maradols are sometimes called Mexican papayas because the majority of this type of the fruit is grown there.

Consumers are advised to throw out this brand and type of papayas rather than risk eating them. “Wash and sanitize counter tops as well as drawers or shelves in refrigerators where any papayas were stored,” New York State Assembly Committee on Health Chair Richard Gottfried said in a statement released today, Saturday.

Salmonella is not normally fatal. Most victims recover without treatment, according to the CDC. But small children, the elderly and those with weak immune systems are more at risk. The CDC says severe bouts are rare but require a doctor’s care and antibiotics.

Chelsea Now – Steps to Safer Streets Sought After Deaths of Chelsea Cyclists

July 19, 2017

BY JACKSON CHEN | At a July 17 stakeholders meeting convened in response to a pair of Chelsea-based fatalities involving cyclists hit by charter buses, the Department of Transportation (DOT) offered a list of preventative measures.

On June 17, Michael Mamoukakis, 80, was traveling down Seventh Ave. when a charter bus making a right turn on W. 29th St. struck him, police said. Mamoukakis’ death was less than a week following an incident where Dan Hanegby, a 36-year-old investment banker from Brooklyn, collided with a charter bus on W. 26th St. (btw. Eighth & Seventh Aves.) after swerving to avoid a parked van on June 12, according to police. The similar nature and proximity of the two deaths led to Councilmember Corey Johnson calling for an emergency meeting with the DOT, NYPD, other electeds, Community Board 4 (CB4), and bus companies immediately following Mamoukakis’ death.