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.

Podcast: Making the Case for the NY Health Act

Making the Case for the New York Health Act

 “City & State NY Debate” Shows that an Improved Medicare-for-All Single Payer System Would Guarantee Coverage for All New Yorkers and Save 98% Money on Health Care Costs

Dear friends,

Earlier this week, I participated in a podcast debate hosted by the media outlet City and State New York  on the New York Health Act, my bill to establish an “improved Medicare for all” single-payer health plan to provide universal coverage to every New York resident, regardless of wealth, income, age or health status (A.4738, Gottfried/S.4840. Rivera).  Opposing me in the debate was Bill Hammond of the Empire Center, a conservative Albany-based think tank.  I think you’ll find the debate informative and interesting, which is why I’m sharing it with you today.

Oneonta Daily Star – In Our Opinion: Single-payer health care plan makes a lot of sense

July 5

Let’s face it, you don’t understand all the nuances of Obamacare or the various Republican plans to replace it.

Don’t feel bad. Neither do we.

Like you, however, we can easily figure out that a Republican scheme that would take health insurance away from more than 20 million Americans over the next 10 years and remove $800 billion or so from Medicare funding isn’t going to be particularly popular.

That’s why only 12 percent of Americans support the GOP plan, according to the USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll released Friday.

Gannett – Veterans to Cuomo: Allow medical marijuana for PTSD

By Jon Campbell, July 7

ALBANY – Veterans groups are pressing Gov. Andrew Cuomo to allow those with post-traumatic stress disorder to use medical marijuana, urging him to sign a bill that will soon head to his desk.

The state Senate voted late last month to add PTSD to the list of illnesses and ailments eligible for the state’s medical-marijuana program, about six weeks after the Assembly voted to do the same.

Journal-News: ‘Medicare-for-all’ single-payer plans reignited by GOP’s Obamacare rollback

By Barrett Newkirk and David Robinson, June 23

As Republicans push reforms reducing the government’s role in health care, some opponents are emboldened in their support for the opposite approach, one that greatly increases the government-health care link.

Progressive politicians and activists see a future in single-payer health care, the term for a government-run health insurance program that would be available to any American. While a Democratic-backed federal bill has no future in the GOP-led Congress, backers have had more success at the state level.

Broadway World – Stage Directors and Choreographers Society Takes a Stand on Health Care Reform

June 20, 2017

The Executive Board of SDC, the theatrical union representing Stage Directors and Choreographers across the United States, unanimously voted to endorse the New York State Health Act (S4840) and the New York Health Program (A4738), sister bills designed to establish universal single-payer health care for all New York residents.

SDC’s endorsement of S4840 and A4738 is combined with a rejection of H.R. 1628 (AHCA), the GOP sponsored bill that passed the House of Representatives in May. The AHCA will reverse the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and is estimated to remove health care coverage from over 20 million Americans, discriminate against preexisting conditions, allow states to opt out of coverage like maternity care, and defund Planned Parenthood.

Staten Island Advance – PTSD added to list of ills treatable with medical marijuana

By Rachel Shapiro, June 22

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — New Yorkers with PTSD will soon be eligible to treat their symptoms with medical marijuana after the state Senate passed Sen. Diane Savino’s bill Tuesday, adding the ailment to those already included in the Compassionate Care Act.

The Assembly bill to add PTSD, which was sponsored by Assemblyman Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan), passed last month.