Tag hearings

CNHI: Home health aide shortage leaves some without care

By Joe Mahoney, 3/3/17

ALBANY — Across upstate New York, agencies that provide health care services to home-bound patients say they are struggling to recruit and retain health aides, a shortage that is expected to become more acute as the population ages.

Home health aides are the lowest-paid workers in New York’s health care system, with many earning less than $13 an hour for work that often involves late-night and weekend shifts helping the home-bound with bathing, meal preparation and other personal needs.

Times-Union: Lawmakers hear of crisis in home care

By Casey Seiler, 2/27/17

The system that provides home care for New York’s ailing, elderly and disabled populations is in crisis due primarily to economic pressures, including a state reimbursement formula that has pushed some rural care providers to the brink of not being able to make payroll.

That was the message conveyed by dozens of witnesses who attended a Capitol hearing Monday called by the Assembly committees on health, aging, labor and health. The Legislature returns to Albany on Tuesday to begin the final month of negotiation of the budget.

Oneonta Daily Star: More testing looms in aftermath of tainted tap water

By Joe Mahoney, CNHI News Service (via Daily Star), 9/26/16

ALBANY — A string of water pollution incidents blamed on industrial chemicals is prompting calls for more money to detect whether New Yorkers are exposed to unregulated but “emerging” contaminants from their faucets.

Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, D-Manhattan, chairman of the Assembly Health Committee, said in an interview he hopes there will be “more funding for expanded investigation of possible contamination” in next year’s budget.

The influential architect of much of the health-related programs advanced at the Capitol said money is needed because small communities often cannot afford testing.

 “And millions of New Yorkers get their water from either very small systems or from private wells,” he said.

Niagara Gazette: Hoosick Falls’ water woes lead to scrutiny for health officials

By Joe Mahoney,9/19

ALBANY — Residents of Hoosick Falls compare the water contamination in their village of 3,500 people with the crisis in Flint, Michigan, where lead-laced drinking water created a public health emergency.

State health officials say they’re doing all they can to help the village on the Vermont border deal with toxic chemicals in the groundwater. But residents and several state lawmakers are steamed, saying more people could have been sickened in the time it took the state to react.

“The lesson for all Americans here is that people need to know what’s in their drinking water, and know what state officials are doing to keep it safe,” said Michele Baker, an organizer of a grassroots group focused on the contamination. “New York state knew what was in our water and allowed us to keep drinking water with contaminants for months.”

 Baker said the pollution is the result of years of dumping harmful chemicals used in manufacturing — complicated by government inertia.

NY Post: State admits staff knew Hoosick Falls water was dangerous

By Kirstan Conley, September 7

ALBANY — Under intense grilling at a legislative hearing, state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker admitted Wednesday he and his staff knew for years that a chemical in the water in Hoosick Falls was a danger to residents, but didn’t sound the alarm.

“Yes,” Zucker relented when asked repeatedly by Assemblyman Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan) if his agency was aware of information “it took [resident] Mike Hickey five minutes on Google to find.”

Gottfried pointed to a fact sheet issued by the Health Department in December 2015 stating residents of the upstate village had nothing to fear.

Politico: Hoosick Falls hearing turns into 5-hour grilling for state officials

By Scott Waldman, September 7

ALBANY— Wednesday’s hearing on Hoosick Falls and water pollution issues turned into a five-hour grilling of state health commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker and other officials who organized the state’s response to the crisis.

The hearings were intended to take a broad look at water quality issues across the state. And while they touched on Hudson River water quality, road salt runoff in waterways and fracking waste, they largely centered on the state’s response to Hoosick Falls, the Rensselaer County village where water was found to be contaminated by an industrial chemical, perflurooctanoic acid, or PFOA.

Capital Pressroom (Audio) – Previewing Legislative Water Hearings

Interview on Capital Pressroom with Susan Arbetter, posted by Alyssa Plock, September 7.

Capital Tonight (Video) re: Legislative Water Hearings

Interview with Liz Benjamin, Capital Tonight, September 6.

Wall St. Journal – Hoosick Falls Water Woes Draw Federal Scrutiny

By Mike Vilensky and Erica Orden, 7/7

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said Thursday she would introduce federal legislation to fight the water-contamination crisis in Hoosick Falls, N.Y., shortly after a congressional committee launched a probe into the state’s handling of the issue.

The measures mark mounting federal scrutiny of how Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other public officials have addressed the matter in the upstate New York community, located about 35 miles from Albany.

“I’m grateful the governor has done a couple of things,” Ms. Gillibrand, a Democrat, said in an interview. “But we need to do a lot more.”

PRESS RELEASE: Assembly to Hold Water Quality Hearings

July 6, 2016

Speaker Carl Heastie, Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Steve Englebright and Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried today announced the Assembly will hold public hearings on water quality in New York State in early September.

“Recent reports of water contamination in municipalities across the state have highlighted the need for a thorough review of measures to ensure clean and healthy water in our communities,” said Heastie. “Ensuring a safe water supply for our children and families is a top priority for us.”

Englebright and Gottfried will take testimony at two public hearings in early September related to water contamination situations in various communities across New York State. The hearings will be held in Albany and Suffolk County. The Assembly will review the causes and response to the known contaminations as well as measures to prevent future occurrences.

“Recent events around the nation and here in New York have shown harmful contaminants in the water supply. Drinking water should be safe and clean. Disturbing discoveries of harmful contaminants highlight the need for preventative measures to be put in place to protect our water purity,” said Assemblyman Englebright.

“Ensuring the safety of drinking water in this state is paramount,” said Assemblyman Gottfried. “We’re going to examine the issue of water contamination and assess our current laws and public policies on these matters, and how they’re working, to protect public access to safe, clean water.”