January Assembly Health Committee Update: Protecting Access to Reproductive Care

The Assembly Committee on Health favorably reported 36 bills at its first four meetings of the 2017 legislative session in January.

The Committee reported bills guaranteeing a woman’s right to choose; restoring the “prescriber prevails” rule in Medicaid managed care; and requiring safe nurse staffing ratios in hospitals and nursing homes.

The Reproductive Health Act (RHA) was reported from the Committee on January 17 and passed the Assembly on the same day. The RHA eliminates outdated language in New York State law; guarantees a woman's right to choose; and ensures access to safe, legal abortion in New York. It also takes New York's abortion law out of the Penal Law and puts it in the Public Health Law where it belongs.

The Committee also reported the bill to establish safe staffing requirements in hospitals and nursing homes. The evidence is clear that having enough nurses on staff has a direct impact on the quality of patient care. Research published by the American Medical Association estimates five additional deaths per 1,000 patients in hospitals with an 8-to-1 patient-to-nurse ratio compared to those with just a 4-to-1 ratio. More nurses per patient means fewer deaths and improves patient outcomes. It is well documented that hospitals with better staff ratios have lower rates of problems such as pneumonia, shock, and cardiac arrest.

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

January 10

Prohibiting behavioral health all-products clauses – Prohibits health plans from requiring behavioral health providers to participate in all their product lines, including commercial products in which payment rates are significantly lower, as a condition of participation in their Medicaid products. (A23, Cahill)

Apartment Building Smoking Policies - Requires owners of multiple dwelling buildings to develop smoking policies (which must be within their existing authority as owner), publicly post these policies, and share them with both tenants and prospective tenants. (A26, Paulin)

Flavored Tobacco Product Restrictions - Helps to decrease the use of tobacco products among young people by prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco products, with limited exceptions. (A277, Paulin)

Criteria for WIC Vendors Selling Specialty Formula – Directs the Department of Health to establish criteria for which vendors are eligible to sell specialty formula under the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program. (A379, Crespo)

January 17

Generic Drug Information Access - Requires the Commissioner of Health to collect and publish data on therapeutic effectiveness of generic drug products. (A236, Paulin)

Obstetrician Risk Management Continuing Education - Grants a medical malpractice premium reduction to obstetricians, other physicians who do deliveries, and midwives who take a continuing education course on risk management and birthing options for patients. (A275, Paulin)

Well Water Education Act - Requires the Department of Health to prepare educational materials on the importance of testing drinking water wells. Real estate agents would provide the material to buyers of homes served by wells. (A310, Jaffee)

Expedited Partner Therapy for Sexually Transmitted Diseases - Allows for expedited partner therapy for any sexually transmitted diseases for which it is recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.) Current law covers expedited partner therapy for chlamydia but no other STDs. (A313, Bichotte)

School Registration Notification – Requires physicians and hospitals to document the name and address of any school attended by a school-aged patient and include such information in the patient’s file. This will help track and prevent exposure to infectious diseases. (A352, Perry)

Medical Indemnity Fund Reform – Amends a 2016 law relating to the “medical indemnity fund” for neurologically impaired newborns. Clarifies that home modifications may be paid for even if other members of the household may benefit, provided that the primary benefit is for the injured child. Repeals amendments concerning appeals of denials of coverage and eligibility to participate in the program. The Governor insisted on these changes when he signed the 2016 bill. (A378, Abinanti)

Pesticide Prevention at Children’s Camps – Limits the use of pesticides at children’s overnight or summer day camps to designated safe categories, modeled on the standards for schools. (A441, Paulin)

Public Health Emergency Notifications - Requires county health commissioners to notify all local heads of municipalities and county legislators covering the affected area in the event of an imminent risk to public health and safety. (A463, Abinanti)

Trichloroethylene (TCE) Contamination Remediation - Requires the Department of Health to set indoor air contaminant standards for Trichloroethylene. These standards would be used to guide Department of Environmental Conservation remediation programs. (A494, Lupardo)

E-Cigarette Regulation - Adds “electronic” cigarettes to Clean Indoor Air Act provisions regulating smoking in certain public areas; prohibits using e-cigarettes in any place where smoking tobacco is banned by law. (A516, Rosenthal)

Restoring "Prescriber Prevails" - Restores "prescriber prevails" rules to Medicaid managed care programs. If a Medicaid managed care plan denies prior authorization for a prescription for a particular drug, and the patient's health care professional insists on using that drug, the prescriber would prevail and the prescription would be covered. (A700, Rodriguez)

State Building Smoking Prohibitions - Prohibits smoking within 50 feet of an entrance to a state office or agency building. (A857, Cahill)

Autism Assessment Centers – Authorizes licensing of Comprehensive Autism Assessment Centers designed to ensure that children with autism spectrum disorders receive a comprehensive assessment. (A879, Gunther)

Assisted Living Facility Closure Requirements – Increases the amount of time from 90 to 120 days that operators of a for-profit assisted living residence have to submit written notices of closure to DOH to give residents more time to acquire new living accommodations. The notice must include a proposed plan for closure. (A1051, Simon)

Reproductive Health Act – Eliminates outdated language in New York State law; guarantees a woman's right to choose; and ensures access to safe, legal abortion in New York. It also takes New York's abortion law out of the Penal Law and puts it in the Public Health Law where it belongs. (A1748, Glick)

January 24

Protecting patient health information - Prohibits emergency medical service providers from selling patient health information without written consent. (A328, Braunstein)

Lymphedema and Lymphatic Diseases Research Tax Check-off Funding - Creates the lymphedema and lymphatic diseases research grants program and research fund. (A432, Rosenthal)

Preventing Underage Internet Purchase of Cigarettes - Requires companies that sell tobacco products over the internet to get a signed authorization stating the recipient is 18 years of age or older. (A1117, Pretlow)

Leukemia Tax Check-Offs – Provides an income tax check-off for leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma education and outreach. (A49, Cusick)

Adult Home Residents Right to Sue - Lets adult home residents go to court for a court-appointed receiver to operate the adult home when the operator is endangering the health, safety, or welfare of the residents. (A1422, Weinstein)

Safe Staffing Levels – Requires the Department of Health to set nurse staffing minimum standards for hospitals and nursing homes, to increase quality of care. (A1532, Gunther)

Lead Hazard Clean-up - Requires the New York State Commissioner of Health to take action when an area of lead poisoning has been designated. Current law allows action but does not require it. (A1809, Dinowitz)

Birth/Death Certificate Fees – Albany - Permits the city of Albany to set the fee it charges for issuing a birth or death record. Currently, State law sets the fee at ten dollars but allows certain counties and cities to set their own fee. (A1860, Fahy)

Restroom Access - Gives patients with Crohn's disease and other eligible medical conditions the right to use employee restrooms in businesses open to the public that do not have a public restroom. (A1982, Paulin)

Lupus Research Program and Fund – Establishes an advisory council and fund within the Department of Health to make grants to state academic medical centers for lupus research. (A2169, Peoples-Stokes)

January 31

Hospital Community Advisory Boards - Requires every hospital to have a community advisory board. (A2379, Gottfried)

Changes in Hospital Ownership or Control – Hospitals are increasingly merging and forming alliances and networks. These changes often have a big impact on a community. But because of technical limits in the law, they can occur with little or no Health Department oversight. This bill would broaden the scope of the law so all changes in ownership or control of a hospital would require State DOH and the Public Health and Health Planning Council review and approval. (A2441, Gottfried)

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Nursing Home Transition and Diversion (NHTD) Waiver Program – Medicaid-eligible individuals who suffer from TBI are served by a highly successive program that provides supports and services to help them live in the most integrated community setting. The Health Department plans to move this population into Medicaid Managed Care, but advocates, providers, and managed care plans have raised serious concerns that have not been resolved despite delays in the transition. This bill provides that the TBI and Nursing Home Transition and Diversion “waiver” programs shall remain outside of Medicaid Managed Care. (A2442, Gottfried)

Genetic Disease Screening and Counseling - Authorizes grants for familial dysautonomia, Canavan's and Tay-Sachs disease screening and counseling. (A2461, Dinowitz)

Lawsuits Against Nursing Homes – Nursing home residents may sue if they are abused or injured. This bill clarifies that a resident’s legal representative or estate can also sue. (A2478, Gottfried)

Early Intervention Funding – Provides funding for Early Intervention services through the “covered lives assessment” paid by health insurance companies, instead of insurance companies considering individual claims. (A2569, Paulin)

Due Process for Health Care Practitioners – When a health plan drops a health care professional from its network, the professional can appeal the decision. But the appeal is handled by a board made up of appointees of the plan itself. This bill requires that hearing panels will include one member appointed by the insurer, one member appointed by the subject of the hearing, and a third panelist chosen by the other two. The bill also expands the law to protect a professional whose contract is not renewed by the plan. (A2704, Lavine)