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Press release – Assembly Passes Reproductive Health Act

Protecting Reproductive Health Care:
Assembly Passes Reproductive Health Act

Statement by Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried

     Today, the Assembly Health Committee reported and the Assembly overwhelmingly passed the Reproductive Health Act (RHA), A.1748, introduced by Assembly Member Deborah Glick.  The RHA eliminates outdated language in New York State law; guarantees a woman’s right to choose; and ensures constitutionally protected access to safe, legal abortion.  It also takes New York’s abortion law out of the Penal Law and puts it in the Public Health Law where it belongs.  Reproductive freedom is fundamental and must be secured.

The U.S. Supreme Court will very likely soon have a majority of judges who oppose protecting reproductive choice.  This, and Republican control of Congress and the White House, makes it more important than ever for New York to pass the Reproductive Health Act.

As chair of the Assembly Health Committee, a founding member of the New York State Bipartisan Pro-Choice Legislative Caucus, and someone who has been active with NARAL since 1969, protecting and strengthening reproductive rights and access to care are among my highest priorities.  New York’s own landmark law on abortion – enacted three years before Roe v. Wade decision – provides most, but not all, the protections of Roe.

The RHA adds a provision to the Public Health Law saying that any appropriately licensed health care practitioner such as a physician assistant, nurse practitioner, or professional midwife may perform an abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, or if there is an absence of fetal viability, or if the abortion is necessary to protect the life or health of the woman.  In contrast, the current abortion provision in the state Penal Law says only a physician may perform an abortion and only allows an abortion after 24 weeks when necessary to protect the life of the woman.  The RHA would strengthen New York’s law to fully cover all the provisions of the Roe v. Wade decision, and all applicable laws and regulations governing health care in New York will also apply.

While we in New York have been working to protect women’s health, state legislatures and governors across the country have been working to pass unconstitutional anti-choice bills.  New York is a pro-choice state – with a history of pro-choice governors, legislators and other elected officials – because we have so many active pro-choice advocates.  As Washington threatens reproductive health care rights and access, it is more critical than ever that we organize and fight to protect every woman’s reproductive rights.

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What the New Administration in Washington Means for  Health Policy in New York

By Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried

The election of Donald Trump and Republican control of Congress are a serious threat to programs and policies that protect our health.  Washington could make radical changes to Medicare, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, reproductive care, and other programs that could drastically undermine our right to health care, cost New York State billions of dollars a year in federal funds, and destabilize health care providers.

The first step in stopping or reversing these attacks is to clearly understand what’s at stake and spread the word.  There is hardly anything more rigged against working people than health care.  The Trump-Republican agenda will make it worse.  This is a time to redouble efforts in more progressive states like New York to create universal access to health care, with funding based fairly on ability to pay, through an “improved Medicare for all” system.

For years, congressional attacks on funding and programs have been defeated by the threat or use of presidential vetoes.  Now we will have a president who may be leading the charge.

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.”

Victory for Reproductive Rights – Showing How Much We Need a Progressive Supreme Court

6/29/16

“Yesterday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down Texas’s anti-choice law restricting access to abortion – in the sheep’s clothing of “safety” regulations –was an extraordinary victory for reproductive rights, patient autonomy, and the right to health care with regulations based on science rather than politics.

Texas is just one of many states engaging in right-wing attacks on reproductive health care. We must fight back against these attempts to politicize crucial health care services. Pro-choice supporters have a lot of work to do.

New York has long been a leader in protecting reproductive freedom. Our landmark protection of abortion enacted in 1970 helped provide the framework for the Roe v. Wade decision three years later, but we have our own battle here. The Assembly has passed the Reproductive Health Act to strengthen our law. But the State Senate did not pass it, reflecting the threat that reproductive freedom faces around the country.

Before yesterday’s decision was released, there was real fear that the decision could go the other way and open the door to horrendous state and federal restrictions on reproductive care. Yesterday’s victory should be a reminder that the U.S. Supreme Court could easily be turned in that direction by even one or two presidential appointments to the Court.

As Chair of the Assembly Health Committee, a key part of my job has always been – and will continue to be – to defend reproductive rights, patient autonomy, access to health care, and policies based on good science and public health principles. Our work together is not done.”

PRESS RELEASE: Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act Passes Assembly

PRESS RELEASE

“Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act” Passes Assembly

Bill Sets Standards for Adequate Hospital, Nursing Home Staffing

(6/14/16 – Albany)  The New York State Assembly today passed the “Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act” (A8580A/S782) with bi-partisan support.  The bill would set a maximum number of patients that nurses and other “direct care staff” can care for in hospitals and nursing homes (staffing ratios) and was based on peer-reviewed academic and evidence-based recommendations.

“Safe staffing is a critical step to ensuring the safety of patients and the safety of nurses,” said Assembly Member Aileen Gunther, the lead sponsor of the bill. “Study after study has shown that investments made in nurses are good investments – whether it’s ending mandatory overtime, requiring safe patient handling policies, or setting safe staffing ratios. As our system of care is evolving, patient outcomes are a key factor in determining provider payments. Safe staffing will improve outcomes, save money, and save lives.”

“Safe staffing saves lives, improves outcomes and reduces avoidable patient injuries,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried.  “Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) determined the odds of patient death increased by 7% for each additional patient the nurse must care for at one time.  The ratios and hours specified in this bill are based on peer-reviewed and evidence-based recommendations, and will ensure that hospitals and nursing homes are safer and provide higher quality care.”

PRESS RELEASE – 6/1 Assembly Passes NY Health Universal Healthcare Bill

Assembly Passes “NY Health” Universal Health Care Bill

The New York State Assembly passed the “New York Health Act” universal health care bill (A. 5062A/S. 3525A) by an overwhelming majority on Wednesday, June 1, for the second year in a row.  New York Health would provide universal, complete health care coverage to every New Yorker without deductibles, co-pays, or limited provider networks.

“Health insurance plans have now asked the State for a 17% rate increase, with some plans as high as 45%,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried, lead Assembly sponsor of the bill.  “Year after year, the cost of coverage for families and employers goes up faster than wages and inflation.  Premiums, deductibles, co-pays, out-of-network charges, and uncontrolled drug costs undermine health care and family finances, and are a heavier burden on employers and taxpayers.”

PRESS RELEASE – Expanding Medical Marijuana Providers

Contact: Mischa Sogut, (518) 455-4941, SogutM@assembly.state.ny.us
5/26/16

Expanding Medical Marijuana Providers

The Assembly yesterday passed two bills to improve patient access to medical marijuana under the 2014 “Compassionate Care Act.”  Today, patients are struggling to find health care providers authorized to prescribe medical marijuana due to changes to the bill made by the Governor in order to secure his support.  These bills bring the law closer to the original bill as passed by the Assembly and supported by patients and their doctors.

A9510 (Gottfried): Authorizes nurse practitioners and physician assistants (NPs and PAs) to certify patients for medical marijuana. “New York law allows NPs and PAs to prescribe the strongest and most dangerous controlled substances, but not medical marijuana,” said Assembly Member Gottfried. “Patients in need should not be denied access to critical medication just because they are treated by a PA or NP.”

A10123 (Peoples-Stokes): There are only about 600 New York physicians registered to certify patients for medical marijuana, but no public list of them. As a result, patients are forced to cold-call doctors in hopes of finding one, or go through social media or other potentially unreliable sources. This bill would require the contact information of registered practitioners to be on the Department’s website (practitioners who do not wish to be listed could opt out). “I believe that current law – both the Compassionate Care Act and the Freedom of Information Law – requires that this list be public, as was the legislative intent. But apparently it needs to be spelled out.” said Assembly Member Gottfried.

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PRESS RELEASE – Aid-in-Dying Bill Approved by Assembly Health Committee

Contact:                                                For Immediate Release
Mischa Sogut, (518) 455-4941                5/23/16
SogutM@assembly.state.ny.us

Statement by Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried

  “Today, the New York State Assembly Health Committee for the first time approved aid-in-dying legislation. A. 10059 (Paulin)/S. 7579 (Savino) would authorize terminally ill adult patients who have mental capacity to make health care decisions to request medication for self-administration for the purpose of ending his or her own life.

“This bill is about patient autonomy and dignity.  Thanks to the work of advocates, health care practitioners, and my colleagues Assembly Members Amy Paulin and Linda Rosenthal and Senator Diane Savino, we have a bill that meets all the moral and legal standards we look to in reviewing legislation in the Health Committee. I am a co-sponsor of the bill.

“For well over a century, New York law has recognized that an adult patient who has capacity to make health care decisions has the right to refuse medical treatment. So for over a century, a patient who wants to cease life-sustaining treatment and receive pain management and palliative care – or no care – has had that right.

“Every New Yorker should have the fundamental right to choose or reject life-sustaining treatment, or medication that will enable them to end his or her pain and suffering.

“We must assure patients that they will have control over their end-of-life decisions, including access to appropriate pain management and palliative care. This critical patient autonomy should extend to the right to choose medically-assisted aid-in-dying.”

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PRESS RELEASE – Assembly Passes GENDA

Contact:                                              For Immediate Release
Mischa Sogut, (518) 455-4941                              May 9, 2016
SogutM@assembly.state.ny.us

Protecting Transgender Rights:
“GENDA” Passes Assembly

Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act has Broad Support 
The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (“GENDA,” A4558B/S61B), which protects transgender people under the State Human Rights Law, was approved by the Assembly today for the ninth time. The bill now goes to the State Senate.
        “Transgender rights are human rights,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, sponsor of GENDA. “It’s an embarrassment to New Yorkers that 18 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws barring discrimination on the basis of gender identity, while GENDA can’t even get a vote in our State Senate.  While North Carolina and other states try to roll back progress by attacking transgender rights, New York should stand up for common sense, fairness, and justice.”
        Transgender people – whose gender identity, appearance, behavior or expression differs from their genetic sex at birth – face discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations and other areas of life, and they are particularly vulnerable to hate crimes.
New York State courts, other state courts, federal courts, and numerous federal agencies including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have held that sex discrimination, under various anti-discrimination laws, includes discrimination based on gender identity or expression. In 2015, the State Division of Human Rights adopted this interpretation of New York’s Human Rights Law. “However, a future governor could reverse that interpretation,” said Assembly Member Gottfried. “It is important that the transgender community be protected by statute.”
Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Ithaca, New York City, Rochester, Syracuse, and the counties of Albany, Suffolk, Tompkins and Westchester have already enacted local GENDA laws.  Numerous private employers have also adopted policies protecting transgender employees from discrimination, including American Express, Eastman Kodak, and I.B.M.
        GENDA is supported by Housing Works, New York State United Teachers, dozens of LGBT organizations across New York, a broad range of religious and faith communities, the New York City Bar Association, and numerous labor unions including the NYS AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ, AFSCME District Council 37, United Auto Workers Region 9A Metro NYC CAP Council, NYS United Teachers, CSEA, Screen Actors Guild, and Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union.
        The Assembly bill has 67 sponsors including members representing urban, suburban, upstate, and rural New York.  State Senator Daniel Squadron sponsors the bill in the Senate.
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Press Release – Assembly Health Committee Update

Assembly Health Committee Update:
New Legislation Advanced to Improve Access to Medical Marijuana

The Assembly Committee on Health favorably reported 10 bills at its meeting on April 5. The Health Committee had not met since its March 1 meeting because of work on the state budget.

The Committee reported bills to expand public access to epinephrine auto-injectors (“epi-pens”); establish age-appropriate sex education grant programs; and require apartment building owners to develop and distribute smoking policies.

The Committee also reported three bills to improve the 2014 Compassionate Care Act medical marijuana law and expand patient access. Changes required by the Executive as conditions of signing the bill, and Health Department regulations, drastically limited the scope of the program. The three bills reported by the Committee would:

  • Allow physician assistants and nurse practitioners to prescribe medical marijuana (today they are already fully authorized to write prescriptions for even the strongest and most dangerous controlled substances).
  • Expand the list of eligible conditions. The conditions added in this bill were initially passed by the Assembly but deleted from the final law at the Executive’s insistence.
  • Create an advisory committee to assist the Commissioner in making regulations, advise the Commissioner on clinical matters, and review appeals of denials of patient or caregiver applications; require that medical marijuana regulations conform to the legislative intent and have a valid clinical or public safety basis.