Chronogram: Can New York Pull Off Single-Payer Healthcare?

By Wendy Kagan, June 1

About 10 years ago, when she was 44, Eve Madalengoitia had a hunch that something was wrong. She was experiencing concerning symptoms of the lady sort, and her doctor said it’s probably nothing, but let’s get you an MRI to be sure. At the time, she was working as a consultant from her home base in Poughkeepsie, writing grants and fundraising for nonprofits; her husband was a self-employed artist. They didn’t have health insurance. The expense of an MRI (ballpark $2,600) was so daunting that Madalengoitia convinced herself that her symptoms were nothing to worry about. She was young and healthy, wasn’t she?

A few months later she got insurance through a new job, so she went ahead and scheduled the exploratory test. Soon after, she received some news that no one expected. “I had aggressive, high-grade uterine cancer, which was not common in women my age,” she says. “I needed immediate surgery, chemo, and radiation.” Thankfully, her insurance paid for it, and now she is NED (no evidence of disease). But she is keenly aware of the what-ifs. “Without health insurance, I probably wouldn’t have gotten the test and the cancer would have spread,” Madalengoitia says. “I wouldn’t be here to tell my story.”

CBS Radio: NYS Bill Would Make It Easier For Parents To Opt Out Of Vaccines Over Religious Objections

May 31, Audio here.

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Vaccines for public school students are required in New York state, unless parents claim the shots violate their religious beliefs.

As WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported, the bill would make it easier for parents to receive a religious exemption. They would just need to sign an affidavit.

New York state Assemblyman Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan) wants people to be vaccinated, and he understands some parents might make up a religious objection.

But he said, “I think that’s the price you have to pay for respecting peoples’ claim of a religious belief.”

But Arthur Caplan, director of medical ethics at NYU Medical School, said, “I think we don’t need that legislation right now.”

He worries that vaccine rates in certain districts will go down.

“The problem is with diseases like measles, you’ve got to get up to rates like 90, 95 percent to protect the whole population,” Caplan said.

He said students who are vulnerable would be put at risk.

The vaccine bill was before the state Senate Health Committee on Thursday.

Chelsea Now: Spar and the City: CRDC Sees Cynthia Nixon, Cuomo Proxy Trade Jabs

By Donathan Salkaln, May 23

Since March 19’s announcement of her run for governor, Cynthia Nixon, a lifelong NYC activist and star of the hit series “Sex and the City,” has forged a surprisingly effective campaign. While garnering support, she has also pushed Governor Andrew Cuomo to consider many important left-wing issues — including April’s trifecta of trying to get a Democratic majority in the NY State Senate, a ban on plastic bags, and the legalizing of recreational marijuana. To many, Nixon has become a superhero firefly in lighting heat under the incumbent, “Mr. Big.”

On May 17, Nixon brought her battle for governorship to Chelsea by seeking an endorsement from the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club (CRDC). The bout was witnessed by a crowd who packed the Hudson Guild’s John Lovejoy Elliott Center (441 W. 26th St.), and there was much buzz before Nixon’s arrival. The CRDC is celebrating its 60th year of political activism that has helped shape Chelsea to be one of the most compassionate, diverse, and exciting places in the world — and its members take endorsement voting very seriously. Nixon faced off against New York State Assemblymember Richard Gottfried (Assembly District 75), representing the corner of Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Legislative Gazette: Legislators voice support for anti-discrimination bills during LGBTQ Week

By Jessie Russell, May 10

As a part of LGBT Week, advocates and legislators have assembled in Albany to show support for several bills that would help combat discrimination and lead to more equality.

Legislation has been reintroduced to the Senate after passing the Assembly for a second time. The bill (A.2662/S.277) is sponsored by Assistant Speaker of the Assembly Felix Ortiz, D-Kings, and Sen. Brad Hoylman, D-Manhattan. The bill would expand the duties of the Office of Children and Family Services concerning lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender runaway and homeless youth. It is currently in the Senate Finance Committee.

Crain’s: Poll shows majority of New Yorkers support aid-in-dying as Assembly holds public hearing

By Jonathan LaMantia, May 4

While the state Assembly health committee heard hours of testimony on Thursday for and against a bill to allow doctors to help terminally ill patients end their lives, a new poll was released that showed the majority of New Yorkers favor such medical assistance.

The Quinnipiac University poll  of 1,076 New York state voters showed 63% support “allowing doctors to legally prescribe lethal drugs to help terminally ill patients end their own lives.” State voters who attend religious services weekly were the only demographic group that opposed the concept. They opposed the concept 61% to 34%.

Under the bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-Scarsdale), patients must make an oral and a written request, signed by two witnesses. Then two physicians must determine that the patient has the mental capacity to make the decision. If one or both of the doctors think the person lacks the mental capacity, a mental health professional will be called in to make the determination. A terminal illness is defined as one that will “within reasonable medical judgment, produce death within six months.”

Six states and the District of Columbia have passed medical aid-in-dying laws, including Oregon, which has had its law for 20 years.

Chelsea Now: Vacancy Tax Would Fine Landlords Who Let Storefronts Languish

By Dusica Malesevic, May 1

As the specter of empty storefronts continues to haunt the city, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s floating of a possible penalty for landlords who leave properties vacant for long periods of time has been greeted by elected officials and advocates as an encouraging sign.

“I’m heartened [by] City Hall’s attention to the issue and the mayor’s personal interest,” State Senator Brad Hoylman said in a phone interview late last week.

On March 30, de Blasio told WNYC, “I am very interested… in fighting for a vacancy fee or vacancy tax which would penalize landlords who leave their storefronts vacant for long periods of time in neighborhoods because they are looking for some top-dollar rent, but they blight neighborhoods by doing it…”

He added, “That’s something we could get done through Albany.”

A vacancy tax falls under the state legislature’s purview.

Public Hearing – Opioid Overdose Reversal Drugs

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING

SUBJECT:  Opioid overdose reversal drugs: assessing and improving access to and availability of drugs to prevent opioid overdose deaths.

PURPOSE:  The purpose of this hearing is to examine access to and availability of opioid overdose reversal drugs, such as naloxone, and to identify, if necessary, means by which to expand access and availability statewide.

New York City
Thursday, May 17
11:00 A.M.
Assembly Hearing Room
19th Floor
250 Broadway

Opioid antagonists, such as naloxone, are potentially life-saving prescription medications used to reverse overdoses caused by heroin and opioids. New York State has made progress expanding access to naloxone and similar drugs. In 2006, New York State passed a law authorizing non-medical personnel to administer naloxone to individuals who seek it. A 2014 law expanded this to allow the prescribing, dispensing, and distribution of opioid antagonists by a non-patient specific order. In addition, many first responders now receive training to administer naloxone.

Gay City News: De Blasio Moves on Safer Consumption Spaces to Curb Overdoses

By Nathan Riley, May 4

BY NATHAN RILEY | A multi-year push in New York City to offer drug users a safe place for consuming their drugs seems destined for success after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his support for “overdose prevention centers.”

Public health advocates voiced enthusiasm as the news spread on May 3 that the administration had reached out to Dr. Howard Zucker, the state health commissioner, for a go-ahead to open four Safer Consumption Spaces in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Brooklyn.

AM New York: New York’s physician-assisted suicide bill debated at State Assembly Committee on Health

By Anne Erhart, May 3

The State Assembly Committee on Health heard testimony from 48 people on Thursday regarding a bill allowing medical aid in dying, or physician-assisted suicide.

The bill would allow for terminally ill patients with a prognosis of six months-or-less to live to take a “cocktail” of drugs to end their life. It would also allow them to pick up the “cocktail” up from their pharmacy once approved by two doctors and confirmed by two independent witnesses.

New York’s proposed legislation is modeled on Oregon’s medical aid in dying bill, which has been in place since 1994. The legislation is known as “assisted suicide” by its opponents, and is currently legal in seven total states and the District of Columbia.

Nearly two-thirds of New Yorkers support allowing doctors to legally prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill patients, according to a poll released Thursday by Quinnipiac University.

ABC 7: New York lawmakers hold hearing on physician-assisted suicide (w/ video)

By Dave Evans, May 3 (video in link)

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) –

State lawmakers in New York are taking a closer look at a legislative proposal to give terminally ill people the right to seek life-ending medication from their physician.

The Assembly’s Health Committee held a public hearing on the measure Thursday in Manhattan. It came after a hearing last month in Albany.

The proposal now before lawmakers, called the Medical Aid in Dying Law, would require two doctors to sign off on the use of life-ending medication. The patient must be within six months of death and must self-administer the drug.