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February Community Update

Introduction of “Vehicular Violence Accountability Act” To Crack Down on Dangerous Drivers

           With violent injuries to pedestrians and bi-cyclists at an all-time high in New York City, especially in Manhattan, I have joined with State Senator Tim Kennedy of Buffalo, Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, to sponsor the Vehicular Violence Accountability Act (S. 7298/A. 9605).

            I introduced the legislation in the Assembly after consultation with the New York County District Attorney’s office, members of Manhattan Community Boards, and organizations promoting pedestrian safety like CHEKPEDS, the Clinton Hell’s Kitchen Chelsea Coalition for Pedestrian Safety.  They expressed concerns that current New York State law governing the “right of way” is limited to collisions in which a driver fails to yield to pedestrians or bicyclists with the right of way.  Current law fails to take into account other aspects of a driver’s behavior, such as whether the driver was speeding, texting while driving, or other engaging in other conduct that could cause injury to others.

            The bill that I’m sponsoring will provide law enforcement authorities with additional tools to address vehicular violence in New York, and al-low prosecutors to consider aggravating factors such as speeding, texting or phoning while driving, previous vehicular convictions, or incidents that entail more than one moving violation.

Board of Standards & Appeals’ Tie Vote on Upper West Side “Supertall” Sells Out Community

In an unusual 2-2 tie vote last Tuesday, the NYC Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) failed to approve a community effort to overturn the Department of Buildings (DOB) approval of Extell Development’s application to erect a 775-foot-high “supertall” building at 50 West 66th Street.  That means the DOB approval of the project stands.  I and the other elected officials representing the area will continue to fight alongside the community.  We have called on the DOB to justify its granting of the permit, including the developer’s “mechanical deductions” for four full floors.  (A “mechanical deduction” lets a developer deduct space for a building’s mechanical equipment from the height calculation for zoning purposes, letting the developer build a taller building.) 

            Landmark West!, the neighborhood preservation organization that had filed the appeal with BSA, and the elected officials say Extell has never shown how the horizontal void space will be utilized, other than to boost the height of the building.  Landmark West! is reviewing its options, which include filing a lawsuit to block the project in NYS Supreme Court.

            Although our BSA appeal failed to win a majority, the rare tie vote showed that half of the BSA members object to Extell’s attempt to boost the height of its building by several additional stories.  At the BSA meeting, its Chair, Margery Perlmutter, joined the two BSA members who voted in favor of the appeal to urge DOB to develop clearer and more transparent policies and procedures to ensure that mechanical floor spaces are appropriately sized to serve their stated purpose of housing mechanical equipment and infrastructure needed to operate the building and not for other accessory or ulterior uses.

            The 50 West 66th Street development is an abuse of zoning regulations, is out of scale with the area, and would set a terrible precedent for future proposed developments.  I stand with Landmark West! and local residents in urging the City to crack down on these and other developers’ abuses of the system.

‘No Hate, No Fear’ March Across the Brooklyn Bridge Against Antisemitism

           With incidents of antisemitism and brutal and often violent attacks against Jews on the rise around the country, I joined tens of thousands of New Yorkers on January 5 in a peaceful “No Hate, No Fear March” across the Brooklyn Bridge.

            It was inspiring to see New Yorkers from all communities unite to speak out against hatred, intolerance, and antisemitism!

NO HATE, NO FEAR: I joined Governor Cuomo, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, Mayor de Blasio, dozens of elected officials, and tens of thousands of New Yorkers in marching across the Brooklyn Bridge to protest acts of antisemitism.

Assembly Passes Package of Bills for New Yorkers with Disabilities           

On January 29 – Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day in Albany – the New York State Assembly passed a package of bills aimed at improving the lives of people with disabilities.  I joined with Assembly Members from both par-ties to help them address the challenges they face.  The package included the following bills:

Disability Rights
            To establish the Office of Advocate for People with Disabilities (A. 9004, sponsored by Assembly Member Phil Steck), which I am co-sponsoring.  The office would advocate on behalf of people with disabilities and assure that they can exercise all of the rights and responsibilities accorded to all citizens of New York State, including the opportunity to live an in-dependent life in their local community.

            Also included is a bill that I am co-sponsoring that would allow the State to be sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, and the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 as they apply to the protection of state employees (A. 1092, sponsored by Assembly Member Barbara Lifton). 

            Additionally, we passed a measure that would require public officers and bodies to provide qualified interpreters and assistive learning devices for hearing impaired individuals upon request at public meetings and hearings at no charge (A. 3385, sponsored by Assembly Member Inez Dickens).

            Another measure would clarify that reason-able accommodation to enable a person with a disability to live in a dwelling includes the use of an animal to alleviate the symptoms or effects of a disability (A. 7331, sponsored by Assembly Member Erik Dilan).

Emergency Preparedness
            Another bill in the package would require counties with local emergency management plans to maintain a confidential registry of people of all ages with disabilities who may re-quire evacuation assistance and shelter during a disaster.  Inclusion in the registry would be optional (A. 3923, sponsored by Assembly Member David Weprin). 

Employment
            Another bill would establish a small business tax credit for the employment of people with disabilities to encourage the employment of capable individuals who are often overlooked (A. 8996, sponsored by Assembly Member Michael Cusick).

Health Care
            In the event that an individual applying for public assistance has work limitations, disabilities or health issues receives a diagnosis from a practitioner provided by the local social services district that is inconsistent with the applicant’s treating health care practitioner, a measure included in the Assembly’s package would require that the district’s practitioner provide explicit written determination and evidence to support their diagnosis (A. 8994, sponsored by Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi). 

Housing
            Another piece of the legislation would create a tax credit for new or retrofitted principal residences which are universally designed to be accessible and adaptable housing (A. 9005, sponsored by Assembly Member Charles Lavine).  Universal designs make residences accessible and user friendly for senior citizens and people with limited mobility.

Assembly Health Committee Advances Legislation

           The Assembly Committee on Health, which I chair, advanced several important pieces of legislation in January. 

            These included a bill (A. 6677) I have introduced that would better target funds in the “Indigent Care Pool,” or ICP – money meant to supplement payments to hospitals who serve high proportions of low-income, uninsured, and Medicaid patients.  ICP funds are currently distributed according to an old, outdated formula that actually gives disproportionate funding to hospitals that provide little to no actual care to low-income patients, including some of the highest-profit hospitals in the state.  My bill, drafted in consultation with New York City Health + Hospitals, rebalances the ICP to better target the facilities which actually provide the bulk of care to low-income patients, typically including both urban public hospitals and rural sole community hospitals.

            Another bill I’m sponsoring that we reported out of the Health Committee, A. 7839, would help maintain water quality in smaller municipalities around New York State.  The Legislature passed a law in 2017 that required the monitoring of “emerging contaminants” in small water systems that provide water to less than 10,000 people.  That law included a short list of just three emerging contaminants, while directing the NYS Health Commissioner to create a longer list.  Because the Commissioner has since failed to produce such a list, my bill adds a longer list of chemicals, largely reflecting federal standards.  I drafted it in consultation with Environmental Advocates, the New York Public Interest Research Group, and other environmental groups.

Deadline to Enroll for Health Care Insurance through NYS Health Exchange Extended to February 7

            The deadline to enroll in a health plan for 2020 through the New York State of Health ex-change has been extended to Tuesday, February 7th.

            Individuals and families living in New York City may compare health plan options, apply for assistance and enroll online at:

nyc.gov/GetCoveredNYC. 

            City residents can also get free enrollment assistance by texting ‘CoveredNYC’ to 877877, or by calling 311 to connect with a health care enrollment specialist.

Census Job Opportunities

            Every ten years the United States Census Bureau takes a count of every person living in the United States.  It’s required by the Constitution.   Getting accurate Census data in New York is vital for ensuring that we receive our fair share of $650 billion in federal funds for public education, public housing, infrastructure, and more — as well as the number of

seats we have in the U.S. House of Representatives.  It also determines how much representation each community has in the State Legislature and the city council.

            It’s critical that every New Yorker be counted in the 2020 Census.  In the last Census in 2010, New York City’s self-response rate was less than 62%, significantly lower than the national 76% response rate.

            There are many jobs now available for workers to conduct the 2020 Census.  To inquire about Field Representative Testing in New York, please send an email with your

name, zip code, and phone number(s) to new.york.recruit@census.gov, or call 212-584-3495.  For other questions or inquiries about Census opportunities outside New York City, please call the New York Regional Census Center at 212-882-7100.

Deadline to Apply for Manhattan Community Board Membership is Extended to Fri., Feb. 14

            Interested in what gets built in the com-munity in which you live or work, and how government works to deliver services in the neighborhood?  Apply to join one of Manhattan’s 12 Community Boards!  The new deadline to submit your application is Friday, February 14 at 5:00 p.m.

            Every Community Board has 50 seats which are filled for two-year terms by volunteers, who are selected by the Borough President and local City Council members. Half the seats are up for appointment or reappointment every year.

            Community Boards get a seat at the table in high-stakes land use, real estate, and zoning negotiations, and they work directly with City agencies to influence how government services are delivered at the neighborhood level. 

            If you’d like to serve as a member of your Community Board, apply online at https://www.manhattanbp.nyc.gov/cbapplication/. You can also print the application and drop it off by mail or in-person at:

            Manhattan Borough President’s Office

            Attention: Rosie Mendez and Elka Morety

            1 Centre Street, 19th Floor

            New York, NY  10007

The deadline to apply for membership on a Manhattan community board is Friday, February 14 at 5:00 p.m.

Fri. Feb. 14 is the Deadline to Register to Vote for the Presidential Primary

            Under a new law passed by the Legislature, you can now change your party enrollment closer to next year’s New York presidential primary.  February 14 – Valentine’s Day – is the deadline to re-register to change which political party you are enrolled in, or to enroll with a party for the first time, in time to vote in New York’s April 28 presidential primary.  If you are already registered at your current address and enrolled with the party of your choice, you do not need to do anything.

            To make a change, send a Voter Registration Form with your new choice to the board of elections office for your borough or county.  You can learn more about registering or changing your party affiliation by going online: https://www.elections.ny.gov/VotingRegister.html

            To mail your voter registration form, send it to the New York County (Manhattan & Roosevelt Island) Board of Elections is:

            New York County Board of Elections

            200 Varick Street – 10th Floor

            New York, NY 10014

On Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day, Assembly Passes Bills to Improve the Lives of NYers with Disabilities

(January 29, 2020) Today, as Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day is observed in the State Capitol, the New York State Assembly passed a package of bills aimed at improving the lives of New Yorkers with disabilities. “On Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day, I join with my Assembly colleagues from both parties to recognize the significant achievements of New Yorkers with disabilities and to help them address the challenges they face,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried (D/WFP-Manhattan), Chair of the Assembly Health Committee. Legislation passed by the Assembly today included the following bills:

Disability Rights

Today’s legislative package includes legislation to establish the Office of Advocate for People with Disabilities (A. 9004, sponsored by Assembly Member Phil Steck), which I am co-sponsoring.  The office would serve to advocate on behalf of people with disabilities to help ensure that they can exercise all of the rights and responsibilities accorded to all residents of New York State, including the opportunity to live an independent life in their local community. Also included is a bill that I am co-sponsoring that would waive the State’s sovereign immunity with regard to application of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, and the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 as they apply to the protection of state employees (A. 1092, sponsored by Assembly Member Barbara Lifton).  Additionally, we passed a measure that would require public officers and bodies to provide qualified interpreters and assistive learning devices for hearing impaired individuals upon request at public meetings and hearings at no charge (A. 3385, sponsored by Assembly Member Inez Dickens).  Another measure would clarify that reasonable accommodation to enable a person with a disability to use and enjoy a dwelling includes the use of an animal to alleviate the symptoms or effects of a disability (A. 7331, sponsored by Assembly Member Erik Dilan).                                                                                                           

Emergency Preparedness

It is imperative that we can ensure the safety of our communities in the face of disasters and emergencies. A measure included in today’s package would require counties with local emergency management plans to maintain a confidential registry of people of all ages with disabilities who may require evacuation assistance and shelter during a disaster. Inclusion in the registry would be optional (A. 3923, sponsored by Assembly Member David Weprin).  

Employment

For people living with or without a disability, the opportunity to earn a living, help support their families and contribute to society is an important part of everyday life. Another bill would establish a small business tax credit for the employment of people with disabilities to encourage the employment of capable individuals who are often overlooked (A. 8996, sponsored by Assembly Member Michael Cusick).  

Health Care

In the event that an individual applying for public assistance has work limitations, disabilities or health issues receives a diagnosis from a practitioner provided by the local social services district that is inconsistent from the applicant’s treating health care practitioner, a measure included in the Assembly’s package today would require that the social services practitioner provide explicit written determination and evidence to support their diagnosis (A. 8994, sponsored by Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi).   

Housing

Another piece of legislation in today’s package would create a tax credit for new or retrofitted principal residences which are universally designed to be accessible and adaptable housing (A. 9005, sponsored by Assembly Member Charles Lavine).  Universal designs make residences accessible and user friendly for senior citizens and people with limited mobility. Providing individuals with the opportunity to age in place could save costs associated with assisted living or nursing homes and would assist in building an inventory of residences to ensure accessibility.

# # #

NY County Politics: Gottfried, Rivera Pen Letter Calling on DOH to save CDPA

A new policy being implemented by the New York State Department of Health (DOH) could end up neutering the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance (CDPA) program – and New York lawmakers are begging them to reconsider.

Assemblymember Richard Gottfried (D-Chelsea, Midtown) and State Senator Gustavo Rivera (D- Kingsbridge Heights) have written a letter to the DOH to try and dissuade them from making the change.

Assembly Health Committee Year in Review

Assembly Health Committee Year-End Update

The Assembly Health Committee wrapped up 2017 with 34 bills signed into law and 19 vetoed, including four which were vetoed with specific agreement for further administrative actions. Some bills were signed or vetoed based on agreements to enact changes in 2018. (A governor often raises concerns and wants changes in a bill after it has been passed by the Legislature. This usually happens after the Legislature has adjourned for the year. It is not widely known to the public, but in New York it is common for a governor to insist that the leaders of the Legislature agree to changes in a bill as a condition of the governor signing it. If the legislative leaders and the bill’s sponsors agree, the governor then signs the bill and the Legislature enacts the changes early in the following year.)

The Assembly Health Committee also held public hearings including:

  • Home care workforce adequacy.
  • Adult home oversight and funding.
  • Health care services in state prisons and local jails.
  • Nursing home quality of care and enforcement.
  • Water quality budget implementation.
  • Immigrant access to healthcare.

Below are summaries of bills acted on by the Governor as well as the public hearings.

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

###

PRESS ADVISORY – Workers, Patient Advocates, Providers to Testify on Home Care Workforce Needs

Contact:                                                         February 21, 2017
Mischa Sogut
518-455-4941
SogutM@nyassembly.gov

On Wednesday, February 22, the Assembly Committees on Health, Aging, Labor, and Task Force on People with Disabilities will hold a public hearing in New York City on the crisis of New York’s inadequate home care workforce.

Home care allows individuals to receive health care and personal services to live at home instead of in a nursing home or other facility. There is a growing shortage of home care services for the elderly, people with disabilities, and people who are chronically ill. Advocates note that there is a shortage of home care workers that is causing waitlists for these services across the state at a time when demand is increasing. Inadequate Medicaid funding for home care may be a significant obstacle to hiring and keeping people in the home care workforce.

The hearing will focus on obstacles to recruiting, employing, and retaining a sufficient workforce. Witnesses are expected to include patient advocacy groups and self-advocates, home care and disability service providers, and home care workers and organized labor groups.

What:
NYS Assembly public hearing on home care workforce

Who:
-NYS Assembly Committees on Health, Aging, and Labor, and Task Force on People with Disabilities
-Patient advocates and self-advocates
-Service providers
-Home care workers

Where:
250 Broadway
19th Floor
New York, New York
10007

The hearings will also be webcast live at:
http://assembly.state.ny.us/av/

When:
Wednesday, February 22
11 AM

###

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.

Newsday: Home care agencies, nonprofits worry about $15/hour wages

By Ridgely Ochs, 3/16

The group of about a 1,000 people with developmental disabilities, their caregivers and family members gathered Friday outside the state office building in Hauppauge, holding placards that read “Fully Fund the $15” and chanting “Please be fair to direct care.”

A little more than two weeks earlier something similar took place at the Yes We Can Community Center in Westbury when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo took the lectern and told the roaring crowd of about 500 mostly union workers that “this is about fundamental fairness.”

Politico NY: State wage hike intensifies staffing challenge for health care providers

By Dan Goldberg, 3/15

Dan Brown was having trouble hiring.

Thousands of developmentally disabled men and women in the Southern Tier live in the ranch-style homes that Brown’s organization operates or rely on the community services it provides. They count on the staff at the Franziska Racker Centers to help them live full lives, whether that means driving them to museums or helping them learn to buy groceries.

But the Racker Centers’ vacancy rate had nearly doubled over the course of a year to 17 percent. Job candidates would schedule interviews but wouldn’t show.

Brown suspected he knew why.

May Health Committee Update

Assembly Health Committee Update:
Protecting Nursing Home Residents From Abuse of Psychotropic Drugs

The Assembly Committee on Health favorably reported 39 bills at its meetings in May.  The Committee advanced legislation strengthening the “prescriber prevails” rule in Medicaid Managed Care; authorizing community paramedicine; and protecting nursing home residents from overuse of psychotropic drugs.

New York law gives patients in nursing homes the right to be fully informed of their proposed treatment, including the right to refuse treatment and be free from chemical restraint unless consistent with certain requirements.  However, psychotropic drugs are being used not just to treat illness but as a form of behavioral control.  The Assembly Health Committee held a hearing in February in which patients’ families, advocates, and adult care experts testified to the frequency of overuse.  A.7351 (Gottfried) requires that before psychotropic drugs are ordered in a nursing home or adult care facility, the patient or their surrogate must be informed of the potential benefits and side effects; dosage and duration of the prescription; reasonable alternatives (such as therapeutic activities); and their right to refuse consent.  The bill also requires written consent by the patient or surrogate.

For more information on a particular bill, please contact the sponsor listed after the description.  For the text of a bill, supporting memorandum, and information on its status, go to: http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us/menuf.cgi .

Tuesday, May 5

Early Intervention Covered Lives Assessment – Provides funding for Early Intervention services through the “covered lives assessment” paid by health insurance companies.  (A273, Paulin)

Credentialing for Group Practices – Requires insurers to expedite review of applications of health care professionals who are joining a group practice and grant provisional credentials to these professionals (A501, Cusick)

Healthy Teens Act – Establishes a Department of Health grant program for providers of age-appropriate sex education.  (A1616, Gottfried)