Tag hearings

Times-Union: At packed hearing, NY lawmakers weigh single-payer health care

At a lengthy, packed hearing on the bill held Tuesday in Albany, lawmakers heard from hospitals, health care leaders, municipal officials, patients, advocates, union leaders and others who all agreed that its goal of providing comprehensive, universal coverage to New Yorkers is laudable. But whether single-payer is the system to achieve that was the topic of spirited debate.

WAMC Radio: NY Legislature Holds Single-Payer Health Care Hearing

The New York State legislature held a daylong hearing Tuesday on a proposal to enact single-payer health care in New York. Supporters and opponents debated whether it’s the answer to the state’s health care
gaps.

Chair Richard Gottfried, a Democrat and prime sponsor of the legislation, known as the New York Health Act, laid out the problem. Millions of New orkers have some form of health coverage, he said. But many still face financial obstacles from private insurance companies in getting the care they need, because of unaffordable co-pays or coverage denials.

Patch.com – Hearing To Discuss Legalizing Marijuana Held In Lindenhurst

By Priscila Korb, 12/3/18

LINDENHURST, NY – Local officials held a public hearing in Lindenhurst on Monday morning to discuss the recreational use of marijuana in New York.

The hearing, held at Babylon Town Hall at 10:30 a.m., was the fourth of four statewide hearings related to the topic following a well-attended Assembly hearing held earlier this year.

“Forty-one years ago, New York decriminalized non-public possession of small amounts of marijuana, making such possession a non-criminal violation punishable only by a fine,” a letter announcing the meeting read. “Despite decriminalization in New York, a disproportionately high number of Black, Hispanic and Latino people continue to be arrested for marijuana-related offenses – particularly possession in public view – which often results in a criminal record that can prevent gainful employment and full participation in society.”

Several states in the U.S., as well as Canada, have recently legalized or are in the process of legalizing adult marijuana use.

“Creating an adult-use system in New York raises important issues about the economic structure and regulation of production, distribution and sale,” the letter read. “Criminal justice and public health concerns, social and economic equity demands, ensuring opportunities for smaller scale and minority-and-women-owned businesses, and other relevant regulatory matters all need to be considered.”

The local officials who attended the hearing included: assembly member Joseph R. Lentol, Chair of the Committee on Codes; assembly member Richard N. Gottfried, Chair of the Committee on Health; assembly member Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes, Chair of the Committee on Governmental Operations and assembly member Linda B. Rosenthal, Chair of the Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse

Binghamton.com (video) – NYS Assembly holds hearing about recreational marijuana

November 20, 2018

VIDEO HERE

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. – Elected officials are turning to the public for their thoughts on legalizing recreational marijuana. 

Some Democratic members of the New York State Assembly were in Binghamton today for a public hearing regarding the adult use of marijuana. 

Governor Cuomo has proposed legislation that would legalize the substance for adult recreational use.

It was one of four hearings across the state to gather feedback.

Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried says it’s looking likely that legalization will be passed, the main question is how. “Not only about is it a good idea or bad idea. But also about what are the mechanics of it. Creating a new industry is a complicated thing. We haven’t done that in New York since the end of prohibition in 1933. How do we want to organize these businesses? So there are a lot of issues to be dealt with.”

Gottfried says among the concerns brought up include how to test if someone is driving under the influence of pot, how to limit access for children and who would be the major players in the industry.

He supports legalization because he says it would save money spent on law enforcement, lower the number of people incarcerated for non-violent crimes and bring in tax revenue for the state.

Gay City News: Legal Pot Movement on Two Fronts This Week

By Nathan Riley, October 19

The Albany County district attorney made an impassioned plea for taxing and regulating the sale of marijuana to adults at a State Assembly hearing October 16, saying ending the war on pot is a logical next step in the process that began in 2004 with the repeal of the draconian Rockefeller era drug laws.

David Soares, who is also the president of the New York State District Attorneys Association, said there is disagreement on this issue within that group but that “several” DAs had similar views. Soares has intensively studied Colorado’s example as the first state to permit adult use of marijuana and emphasized that the new tax revenues from legalization must restore “vulnerable” communities where residents have been arrested by the tens of thousands while pot use by white New Yorkers was overlooked by law enforcement.

“Real Courage,” he told a joint hearing of several Assembly Committees on adult use of marijuana, is about addressing the “aftermath” of the war on drugs, winning the peace with a plan for “reconstruc­tion” of neighborhoods unsettled by mass incarceration. Simply closing the illegal market for pot could have grim consequences; dealers could replace what is on their shelves with opioids.

“If you don’t recycle the money, you’re buying yourself a bigger problem,” Soares warned.

Proposed legislation creating a tax and regulate system provides for community reinvestment. Sponsored by Manhattan Democratic Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes, a Buffalo Democrat, the measure creates a marijuana revenue fund from tax receipts — net of administrative and oversight costs — that would funnel 25 percent to the State Education Department, 25 percent for drug treatment and public education, and 50 percent for community reinvestment.

Specific regulations implementing the legislation would be drafted by a new bureau in the State Liquor Authority, which was established in 1933 to create from scratch a system of legal liquor sales following the repeal of Prohibition. The SLA would repeat this mission by licensing and managing the production and sale of legal marijuana.

A cornerstone of the SLA is a system favoring small business ownership of retail outlets, Krueger told a conference, also held October 16, organized by Capalino+Company, which is recruiting clients that would benefit from a regulated market. Under this approach — which represented a persistent theme touched on at the event that drew roughly 200 people — residents of low-income neighborhoods would be given an opportunity to go into business as retail sellers of legal marijuana.

Billed as the “Cannabis Summit: Developing a Sustainable Cannabis Economy in New York,” the Capalino event featured a keynote addresses by Melissa Mark-Viverito, the former City Council speaker who is now a senior official at the Latino Victory Fund, and Melissa Moore, the deputy state director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a leader in the movement to end drug prohibition.

Krueger’s bill would permit people with marijuana convictions to petition for a review of their criminal justice records. Marijuana convictions complicate the abiity of some to access jobs and scholarships for which they are otherwise qualified.

In his hearing testimony, Soares strongly supported this objective, saying, “We must work to seal and reclassify” previous convictions and “move from stigma to opportunity.”

Krueger voiced particular pride that her bill would respect New Yorkers who object to second-hand smoke. Tenants in smoke-free buildings would be prohibited from smoking pot at home. Doctors, she said with a sly grin, believe that inhaling a burning leaf of any kind is dangerous.

Soares — responding to questions from the Assembly panel chaired by Dick Gottfried from Manhattan, the Health Committee chair, Joe Lentol from Brooklyn who heads the Codes Committee, and Manhattan’s Linda Rosenthal, chair of the Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse — devoted a lot of time to addressing the risks of drivers being stoned. Currently, the police bring charges as soon as they smell pot, but with legalization that trigger would disappear. The Albany prosecutor said police would have to be trained in drug detection, and if a reliable blood test were developed police labs would need additional funding. He recommended that anyone refusing a blood test have their license suspended.

In any discussion of plans for legalizing pot, Krueger acknowledged, the elephant in the room is a proposal from Governor Andrew Cuomo that is likely to be part of the budget he unveils next year. The governor’s wishes would hold center stage in Albany.

Crain’s Business: State officials hear public comments on marijuana

By Jonathan Lamantia, 9/21/18

Several dozen speakers overwhelmingly supported adult use of marijuana at the Borough of Manhattan Community College on Thursday—the first of several listening sessions to be held in New York City, as state officials solicit public input on legalization.

But they said they worry that the state’s regulation of the drug will make it feasible only for corporations to profit from its legalization, not people from communities who have been hurt by the criminalization of marijuana.

“Nowadays when you create a new industry you run a real risk, even likelihood, that it will be dominated by a handful of very large corporations,” said Manhattan Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, the only elected official to speak at the event. “I think most of us don’t want that to happen with marijuana.”

The Cuomo administration is holding the listening sessions around the state to inform a workgroup that will draft legislation for a regulated marijuana program, which will be considered next year by the Legislature. The two-hour sessionswill take place next week in Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and Long Island.

Dr. Joshua Rein, a nephrologist who works for Mount Sinai Doctors and a prescriber in the state’s medical marijuana program, said any law to legalizing marijuana should also include money for research to study clinical outcomes.

The state estimated that total tax revenue from a marijuana retail tax and sales tax, could range from $248 million to $341 million for medium-quality strains and $494 million to $678 million for high-quality strains. Those estimates assume a tax-rate range of 7% to 15%.

On the matter of taxation, speakers cautioned that marijuana must remain affordable or people will continue buying it illegally. Yolanda Allison, who uses medical marijuana to manage pain, spoke at the meeting in favor of allowing people to grow marijuana in their homes. She said she recently spent $400 for 30 capsules and one vape pen that will last less than a month.

The listening sessions follow a July report from the state Department of Health examining how legalization would affect health, criminal justice and tax policy. It concluded “the positive effects of regulating an adult (21 and over) marijuana market in NYS outweigh the potential negative impacts.”

The state should promote women and minority-owned businesses in any law that creates a marijuana market, attorney Cristina Buccola said.

“You must see that there are community reinvestment programs that there are licenses that are set aside for those individuals that have been disproportionately impacted,” she said. “You do not accept any legislation without these parameters.” Mark Amaruso, a Manhattan resident, was one of the few opponents to legalization who spoke on Thursday.

He criticized politicians who have fiercely fought smoking tobacco in public places such as beaches but have advocated for marijuana. Other concerns people had included the effect on people with asthma and how the state would deter young people from using marijuana.

“For most non-smokers, and I’m probably the black sheep here, there’s no distinction between tobacco and marijuana. It still stinks,” he said. The Medical Society of the State of New York, the state’s largest physician trade group, also opposes legalization for recreational use. It supports an approach that favors drug treatment rather than criminal penalties for those arrested for marijuana possession.

Testimony on the New York Health Act before the New York City Council

Testifying before the NYC Council in support of its resolution endorsing the New York Health Act, December 6, 2018

Testimony of Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried

in Support of the New York Health Act

Public Hearing: City Council Committee on Health

New York City Hall

December 6, 2018

I am Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried.  I chair the Assembly Health Committee and I am the introducer, along with Senator Gustavo Rivera, of the New York Health Act, to create single-payer health coverage for every New Yorker.  I appreciate the Council Health Committee holding this hearing on Speaker Corey Johnson’s resolution endorsing the bill.  I support the resolution.

In both houses of the State Legislature, we now have solid majorities who have co-sponsored, voted for, or campaigned supporting the NY Health Act.  And Governor Cuomo supports single-payer health coverage, although he says he has questions about whether it can be done at the state level.

Every New Yorker should have access to the health care they need, without financial obstacles or hardship.  No one says they disagree with that.  And the New York Health Act is the only proposal that can achieve that goal.

In NY State, we spend $300 billion – federal, state, and non-governmental – on health coverage.  Nationally, we spend far more than any industrial democracy as a percentage of GDP.  But 18 cents of the insurance premium dollar goes for insurance company bureaucracy and profit.  Our doctors and hospitals spend twice what Canadian doctors and hospitals do on administrative costs, because they have to fight with insurance companies.  We pay exorbitant prescription drug prices because no one has the bargaining leverage to negotiate effectively with drug companies.

Just about every New Yorker – patients, employees, employers, and taxpayers – is burdened by a combination of rising premiums, skyrocketing deductibles, co-pays, restrictive provider networks, out-of-network charges, coverage gaps, and unjustified denials of coverage.  I know I am, and I bet everyone in this room is.

And those financial burdens are not based on ability to pay.  The premium, the deductibles – the insurance company doesn’t care if you’re a multi-millionaire CEO or a receptionist.

In a given year, a third of households with insurance has someone go without needed health care because they can’t afford it – and usually for a serious condition.

The number one cause of personal bankruptcy is health care — even for those who have commercial health coverage.

We’ve put control of our health care in the hands of unaccountable insurance company bureaucrats. Nobody wants insurance company bureaucrats deciding what doctor you or your family can see and when.

The health insurance system means massive cost increases for most everyone and better health care for hardly anyone. It’s a disaster.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The NY Health Act will save billions of dollars for patients, employees, employers, health care providers and taxpayers – while providing complete health coverage to every New Yorker.

Everyone would be able to receive any service or product covered by any of the following:  NY Medicaid, Medicare, state insurance law mandates, and the current state public employee benefit, plus anything the plan decides to add.

And there will be no premiums, no deductibles, no co-pays, no restricted provider network, and no out-of-network charges.

We’ll actually save billions of dollars because we get rid of insurance company bureaucracy and profit, doctors and hospitals will be able to slash their administrative costs, and New York Health will be able to negotiate much lower drug prices by bargaining for 20 million patients.

And this lower cost will be shared fairly, based on ability to pay.  NY Health will be funded by broad-based progressively graduate taxes.

There will be one tax on payroll.  At least 80% of it must be paid by the employer.

There will be a similar tax on currently taxable “unearned” income – like capital gains and dividends.

Because of the savings and the progressively graduated tax mechanism, 90% or more of New Yorkers will spend less and have more in their pocket.

Pumping this money back into our economy will create 200,000 new jobs in New York.

And there will be money to completely cover everyone, and make sure doctors, hospitals and other providers are paid fairly – and today, most of the time, they are not.

The vast majority of our hospitals get most of their revenue from Medicaid, Medicare, and uncompensated care pools – none of which fully cover the cost of care.  The NY Health Act requires full funding for all hospital care, and hospitals will save billions in reduced administrative costs.

Here are 3 basic numbers:  The savings from insurance company bureaucracy and profit, provider administrative costs, and drug prices will total $55 billion.  The increased spending for covering everyone; eliminating deductibles, co-pays and out-of-network charges; and paying providers more fairly will cost $26 billion.  So the net savings to New Yorkers is $29 billion.

The way our society deals with long-term care – meaning home health care and nursing home care – for the elderly and people with disabilities is a moral outrage.  NY’s Medicaid does a much better job than other states.  But today, New Yorkers spend $11 billion a year out-of-pocket for long-term care.  And family members – usually women – provide unpaid home care worth $19 billion.

In January, Senator Rivera and I will be announcing that the NY Health Act will cover long-term care.

Now, that will use up $19 billion of the net savings.  But it means no NY family will have to wipe out lifetime savings, and no family member will have to give up a career, to provide long-term care for a loved one.  That’s profoundly important.

How much tax revenue will we need?  With the net savings, we’ll need $129 billion from the NY Health taxes.  When we add home care and nursing home care, we’ll need $159 billion.

How do we know the NY Health program will treat us – and our doctors and hospitals – fairly?  Two ways.

First, the legislation explicitly requires that provider payments be reasonable, related to the cost of providing the care, and assure an adequate supply of the care.  No coverage today has that guarantee.

Second, we’ll all be in the same boat; rich and poor.  Every New Yorker – every voter – will benefit from the program.  And every voter will have a stake in making sure our elected officials keep it as good as possible.

Remember where we started:  Every New Yorker should have access to needed health care, without financial obstacles or hardship.  We’re not there today.  The NY Health Act will get us there.  If anyone doesn’t like the NY Health Act, they should either put on the table another plan that will get us there, or admit that they’re OK with depriving millions of New Yorkers of health care or family financial stability.

Concerns have been raised by many of NY City’s municipal labor unions.  They are justifiably proud of the good deal they have won for their members over the years.  Good scope of coverage.  The City pays the full premium.  And the contract says that if there are savings in the health benefit, the savings go into a stabilization fund to pay for salaries and benefits.  As they remind us: at the bargaining table they have given up wages and benefits to protect this deal.

Under NY Health, by law, every municipal employee, like every New Yorker, would have an even broader scope of benefits, and without deductibles, co-pays and restricted provider networks and out-of-network charges.

Under the bill now, collective bargaining could continue to have the City pick up the whole tab for the payroll tax and pass on the savings to the stabilization fund.  But Sen. Rivera and I have offered to add bill language that by law would require the City to do that, without the need to bargain for it.

Our parents didn’t raise us to screw workers.  Period.  Sen. Rivera and I are determined to make sure that labor’s concerns are protected under the NY Health Act.  We are continuing the dialogue with them.

Thank you for letting me testify.

El Diario: Vientres de alquiler al banquillo en Nueva York

By Pedro Frisneda, May 24

Las leyes que rigen los “contratos de madres sustitutas”, conocidos más popularmente como “vientres de alquiler”, son muy antiguas, estrictas y punitivas en el estado de Nueva York.

Por esta razón, miembros de los comités de Salud y Judicial de la Asamblea estatal de Nueva York realizaron una audiencia pública este jueves para analizar estas leyes que datan de casi 30 años atrás.

En 1992, el estado de Nueva York aprobó el Artículo 8 (Secciones 121-124) de la Ley de Relaciones Domésticas, que establece que los “contratos de crianza sustituta” con compensación (pago a la mujer que queda embarazada) son contrarios a la política pública de este estado, y son nulos e inaplicables.

Este artículo fue promulgado luego de un caso judicial muy publicitado y polémico en Nueva Jersey, conocido como “Baby M”, el cual involucró a una mujer casada que firmó un contrato por $10,000 con una pareja casada por el que aceptó quedar embarazada a través de inseminación artificial. El acuerdo estipulaba que, luego de nacer el niño, ella renunciar al mismo para entregarlo a la pareja. Sin embargo, después del nacimiento, la mujer se negó a renunciar al bebé.

Aunque originalmente un tribunal de primera instancia de Nueva Jersey decretó que la mujer cumpliera con lo exigido en el contrato de subrogación, una apelación ante el Tribunal Supremo del Estado Jardín declaró “inaplicable” el contrato frente a la política pública de ese estado.

Por antecedentes como éste, los participantes en la audiencia pública, encabezada por los asambleístas Jeffrey Dinowitz y Richard Gottfried, examinaron las formas en que la práctica de la maternidad subrogada o vientre de alquiler ha cambiado desde la aprobación de la prohibición estatal de los contratos de subrogación compensados en 1992.

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.

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.