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City and State: Democratic lawmakers’ big plans for health care

This year has been a big one for health care in state government. The state Legislature finally passed the Reproductive Health Act and other legislation that had stalled in the state Senate when it was under GOP control. Gov. Andrew Cuomo led a successful effort to codify Obamacare in state law, just in case Republicans succeed in repealing the landmark health care law at the federal level. State lawmakers even got a chance to stage a statewide series of public hearings on single-payer health care – one of the most controversial proposals in state politics.

A new session of the state Legislature will begin in January, and it is likely that Democratic control of both houses of the Legislature will once again smooth the passage of numerous proposals affecting health care across the Empire State. Here’s a look at some issues coming up in the months ahead.

Bloomberg News: New Yorkers to Pay 20 Percent Sales Tax on Vaping Products

“There’s certainly no reason why we should be taxing different nicotine delivery systems differently, whether they’re tobacco cigarettes or e-cigarettes,” said Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried (D), who chairs the Health Committee. “The experience is pretty clear that taxing the product discourages use.”

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 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.

North Country Now: NY’s smoking cessation record for 2016 calls for more resources, American Lung Association says

North Country Now, 2/9

While New York made some progress on tobacco control policies that will save lives, it fell short in providing smokers with access to the resources they need to quit, according to the American Lung Association’s State of Tobacco Control 2016.

The American Lung Association’s 14th report finds that most states and the federal government earned poor grades, and the high level of youth use of tobacco products other than cigarettes threatens to undermine the United States’ overall progress in the fight against tobacco-caused death and disease.

March Health Committee Update

Assembly Health Committee Update:
Reproductive Health Act Goes to the Assembly floor
Bill Would Make “Roe” State Law

The Assembly Committee on Health favorably reported 23 bills at its meetings on Tuesday, March 3 and Tuesday, March 24, including the Reproductive Health Act (RHA), sponsored by Assembly Member Deborah Glick.   The RHA aligns state public health law with existing federal law.

In practice, the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision has guaranteed abortion rights in New York since 1973.  However, while New York’s own state law is similar to the protections of Roe, there are some protections in Roe that would be lost if it were overturned.    The RHA codifies in state law the rights that Roe has provided since 1973.  “The right to reproductive freedom is a fundamental right.  New York State must strengthen reproductive health rights and respect women’s decisions,” said Assembly Health Committee chair Richard N. Gottfried, a co-sponsor of the bill.  The bill is expected to be passed by the Assembly on Wednesday, March 25.

Health Committee Update – 2/27

Assembly Health Committee Update
New York Health Act reported from committee

 The Assembly Committee on Health favorably reported 22 bills at its meetings on Tuesday, February 10, and Thursday, February 26, 2015, including legislation giving adoptees access to their birth certificates and medical records, restoring “prescriber prevails” in Medicaid managed care, and creating the New York Health universal health coverage plan.

City & State – Setting the Agenda: Health

By Ashley Hufpl, November 25

In the wake of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement in April that the federal goverment had approved an $8 billion Medicaid waiver so that New York can apply that money to reform the state’s healthcare system, the main goal of the state Senate during the 2015 legislative session will be to implement major healthcare system changes. Meanwhile, the Assembly will seek to pass publicly funded, single-payer health coverage.

With the waiver, the state will overhaul the current system to fully implement the Medicaid Redesign Team reforms, such as promoting community-level collaborations and lowering avoidable hospital admissions by 25 percent over the next five years.

Assembly Health Committee Update

        The Assembly Committee on Health favorably reported 7 bills at its meeting on Monday, April 7, including legislation expanding access to the anti-overdose drug Naloxone and banning artificial trans fats in food establishments statewide.  For more information on a particular bill, please contact the sponsor listed after the description.

Provider Participation in Child Health Plus Plans – Prohibits insurance companies that offer Child Health Plus from requiring a participating health care provider in its Child Health Plus plan to also sign up for the insurance company’s other health plans.  (A4045, Pretlow)