Assembly Health Committee Update: Protecting Access to Reproductive Care

The Assembly Health Committee favorably reported 12 bills at its first meeting of the 2019 legislative session on January 15. The Committee reported bills guaranteeing a woman’s right to choose; requiring feminine hygiene products to be offered for free at charter schools (they are already free in public schools); and simplifying coverage and billing rules for early intervention services for children with developmental delays and disabilities.

The Reproductive Health Act (RHA) was reported from the Committee and is scheduled for a floor vote in both the Assembly and the Senate on January 22. The RHA eliminates outdated language in New York State law; guarantees a woman's right to choose; and ensures access to safe, legal abortion in New York.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 removes New York's abortion law from the Penal Law and puts it in the Public Health Law where it belongs. It has repeatedly passed the Assembly. With the new Democratic majority in the Senate, it is expected to be passed there as well and be signed into law by Governor Cuomo. It was first submitted to the Legislature by then-Governor Eliot Spitzer in 2007.

For more information on a bill, please contact the sponsor listed after the description. For the text of a bill, supporting memorandum, and information on its status, go to:

Reproductive Health Act (RHA) - Described above. Abortion would have the same legal status as other health care procedures, including allowing nurse practitioners, physician assistants and midwives to perform procedures within their ordinary scope of practice. (A21, Glick)

Notifying Patients of Hospital Policies on Refusing Treatment - Hospitals are required to disclose to patients their policies that may be contrary to a patient's wishes (e.g., relating to withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment). This bill requires notice prior to admission, except in an emergency. (A108, Rosenthal)

Central Venous Line Patient Information - This bill would require hospitals to determine if family or other caregivers are able and willing to do the tasks involved in maintaining a central venous line for a patient about to be sent home from the hospital. (A212, Galef)

Protecting patient health information - Prohibits emergency medical service providers from selling patient health information without written consent. (A230, Braunstein)

Prohibiting behavioral health all-products clauses – Prohibits health plans from requiring behavioral health providers to participate in all their product lines, including commercial policies, which typically have significant lower payment rates, as a condition of the provider participating in the plan’s Medicaid products. (A252, Cahill)

Feminine Hygiene Products in Charter Schools – The 2018-19 enacted budget required that all public schools provide feminine hygiene products free of charge for students in grades 6-12. This bill clarifies that this includes charter schools. (A290, Rosenthal)

Schenectady Birth and Death Certificate Fees – Authorizes the Schenectady City Council to set the fee charged for birth and death records issued by the City Clerk. Several counties and cities have been given this authority. (A306, Steck)

Cesarean Section Information – Caesarian deliveries are sometimes performed when not medically called for. For low-risk pregnancies, Cesarean delivery increases the risk of maternal and infant mortality and morbidity. This bill establishes procedures for maternal health providers to provide written information to women for whom Cesarean sections are recommended, requested but not medically necessary, or performed when not planned. The information would include the benefits and risks of C-sections and implications for future pregnancies. (A318, Paulin)

Early Intervention Funding – Health insurance companies rarely pay claims for services that would be covered by the Early Intervention program (for young children with developmental delays or disabilities). Requiring EI service providers to pursue insurance payment before they can be paid by the EI program imposes expensive burdens on providers and increases premiums by wasting insurance company administrative work. The bill would impose a small increase in an assessment currently paid by health insurance companies, instead of insurance companies considering individual claims. (A356, Paulin)

Rural Non-Emergency Medical Transportation – Since the adoption of Medicaid’s centralized non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) system, many rural public transport systems have experienced sharp decreases in ridership and been forced to reduce or eliminate routes. This bill requires that public transportation systems be prioritized for assignment in rural counties if such systems are available and appropriate to a patient’s needs. (A380, Lifton)

Physician Information for Nursing Home Patients – Potential nursing home residents may want to know whether their preferred physicians will be allowed to care for them at the nursing home. This bill requires nursing homes to provide potential residents with information regarding their policies on the granting of physician privileges. (A407, Cahill)

Protecting Patient Health Information - Prohibits emergency medical service providers from selling patient health information without written consent. (A420, Braunstein)