Assembly Health Committee Update

The Assembly Health Committee favorably reported 33 bills at its meetings on January 23, January 29, February 4, and February 11. The Committee reported bills expanding the conditions list for medical marijuana; establishing a maternal mortality review board; and authorizing bulk negotiation of prescription prices by both Medicaid and commercial health plans.

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:

January 23

Child Health Plus Coverage of Ostomy Supplies – Children suffering from birth defects or disorders such as Crohn’s disease may require ostomy supplies and equipment. These supplies can easily exceed hundreds of dollars a month. This bill adds coverage of ostomy supplies to the Child Health Plus program. (A548, Cahill)

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. (A568, Paulin)

Licensed Mental Health Practitioners (LMHP) Medicaid Coverage – LMHPs provide vital mental health services, including counseling and psychotherapy. Currently, LMHP services are only reimbursable by Medicaid if they are billed through a State mental or behavioral health agency. This bill makes LMHP services reimbursable when provided in other settings, increasing patient access to mental health care. (A648, Bronson)

Nursing Home Closure Notification – This bill requires a nursing home operator to notify the Commissioner at least 90 days ahead of any anticipated closure. The notice shall include a proposed plan for closure including steps the nursing home operator will take to notify and assess current residents. (The purpose of the assessment is to ensure continuity of care for residents as they move to their next placement.) (A710, Niou)

January 29

LHCSA Moratorium Clarification – In response to the proliferation of licensed home care service agencies (LHCSAs), the 2018 enacted budget put a moratorium on new licenses for two years with certain exceptions. This bill clarifies the intent of the budget agreement that licensees whose applications were already in process will not be subject to the moratorium. (A976, Gottfried)

Lymphedema and Lymphatic Diseases Research Tax Check-off Funding - Creates the lymphedema and lymphatic diseases research grants program and research fund. (A1021, Rosenthal)

Expanding Epi-Pen Access – Certain categories of individuals or locations are authorized to acquire and stock epinephrine auto-injectors (epi-pens), to be used by people with training to help individuals experiencing anaphylactic symptoms. This bill adds law enforcement and firefighters to that list. (A1024, Rosenthal)

Psychotropic Medications in Nursing Homes -This bill requires that before psychotropic drugs are ordered in a nursing home or adult care facility, the patient or their surrogate must be informed of the anticipated benefits and side effects; dosage and duration of the prescription; reasonable alternatives (such as therapeutic activities); and their right to refuse to consent. The bill also requires written consent by the patient or surrogate. (A1033, Gottfried)

Electronic Prescription Exemptions – Current law requires all prescriptions to be done electronically. Since nursing homes may not have physicians or nurse practitioners (NPs) on-site 24/7 to access the electronic prescribing system, the State has allowed registered nurses to take orders for medications to be delivered in nursing home settings as long as the physician or NP signs an order within 48 hours. This bill extends this waiver process through 2021. (A1034A, Gottfried)

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. (A1051, Paulin)

Medical Marijuana Conditions Expansion - There is no drug other than marijuana for which the State restricts its use to a limited list of medical conditions. The list was added as a requirement for gaining Senate and Executive support, but takes decision-making power away from health care practitioners and their patients. This bill removes the list. However, it leaves in place the requirement that medical marijuana may only be used for a "severe debilitating or life-threatening condition." (A1125, Gottfried)

Correctional Health Facility Regulation - New York has over 50,000 inmates in State custody and another 25,000 in local facilities. Although New York has a moral and constitutional obligation to provide this care, prison and jail health facilities are largely exempt from Health Department oversight and regulation. This bill would include correctional health care facilities under Article 28 of the Public Health Law, which licenses, regulates, and sets standards hospitals, clinics and other health facilities. (A1127, Gottfried)

Correctional Health Oversight Expansion - At an October hearing, advocates widely praised the 2009 law authorizing the Health Department to review state prison and local jail policies on HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C services. Implementation has included policy reviews done by the State's AIDS Institute, site visits, staff interviews, and medical records reviews. This bill expands the 2009 law to additional conditions and categories of inmates, with a focus on populations identified as most at-risk by prison health advocates. The bill also directs DOH to study staffing levels in correctional settings, following testimony of 20%-25% vacancy rates for nurses and physicians. (A1130, Gottfried)

Hospital Community Advisory Boards - Requires every hospital to have a community advisory board. (A1148, Gottfried)

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. (A1194, Jaffee)

HIV Post-Exposure Prophylaxis - Current law requires hospitals to provide sexual assault victims with a 7-day "starter pack" of HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). This bill expands it to require provision of a full PEP regiment. The bill also requires that PEP costs be billed directly to the State Office of Victims Services and reimbursed directly to the health care provider, rather than requiring the victim to fill out a formal application. (A1204, Peoples-Stokes)

February 4

Medical Marijuana for Dysmenorrhea – This bill makes dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps) an eligible condition under the medical marijuana law. (A688, Rosenthal)

Technical Corrections to Hospice Law - Updates references to palliative care in the hospice law. (A1078, Gottfried)

Adult Home Resident Health Care Autonomy – Protects the rights of adult home residents to make their own health care decisions and choose their health care providers. (A1084, 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. (A1147, Gottfried)

Medical Marijuana for Autism – This bill makes autism an eligible condition under the medical marijuana law. (A1616, Abinanti)

Access to Breastfeeding Counseling Services - Medicaid currently covers lactation counseling by certified lactation consultants only upon referral by a physician, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, or licensed midwife. This bill would authorize Medicaid coverage for these services without requiring such medical orders. (A2345, Solages)

Medical Indemnity Fund Ombudsman – The Medical Indemnity Fund (MIF) was created in 2011 to cover health care costs for birth-related neurological injuries. However, issues have arisen with care access, provider reimbursement, and the appeals process. This bill would create an ombudsman program to within the MIF similar to the existing Long-Term Care Ombudsman program. (A2347, Abinanti)

February 11

Medication Synchronization – Medication synchronization enables partial prescription fills so that later refills are coordinated among multiple prescriptions. This bill authorizes, but does not require, partial fills for synchronized dispensing when the patient, prescriber, and pharmacist agree. (A2785, Gottfried)

Electronic Medical Records Delay Codes – In order to be paid, Medicaid requires that all claims be submitted within 90 days of the date of service unless there are circumstances outside the control of the provider. However, filing for exceptions requires specific delay codes within the State’s Medicaid system. This bill requires the Department to establish delay codes for complications caused by electronic medical records systems. (A2786, Gottfried)

Lower Drug Prices for Medicaid and Private Insurance - The Preferred Drug Program (PDP) negotiates rebates from drug manufacturers as a condition for including their drugs on Medicaid’s “preferred drug list,” but only for the very small fee-for-service Medicaid population. The bill would help lower drug costs by having the PDP negotiate drug prices for the whole 6.5 million patient Medicaid program. Currently, each Medicaid managed care plan handles its own drug benefit. The bill would also invite commercial health plans to buy their drugs through the PDP. This would further increase the PDP’s bargaining power and make lower prices available to the commercial health plans. (A2795, 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 successful “waiver” program that provides supports and services to help them live in the most integrated community setting. The Health Department wanted to move this population into Medicaid Managed Care, but advocates, providers, and managed care plans have raised serious concerns and the legislature has succeeded in delaying the transition to January 1, 2022. This bill provides that the TBI and Nursing Home Transition and Diversion waiver programs shall remain outside of Medicaid Managed Care permanently. (A2798, Gottfried)

Medicaid Prescriber Prevails Protections - Current law allows physicians treating patients in Medicaid fee-for-service to invoke prescriber prevails without extra road blocks. This bill will ensure that a managed-care Medicaid patient's health care professional similarly has the final say in determining which drug, in certain classes, will be dispensed to the patient unless the drug requires generic substitution or is intended for off-label use. (A2799A, Gottfried)

Applied Behavioral Analysis Medicaid Coverage – Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) is a behavioral intervention used to treat individuals with autism spectrum disorders. New York has required that commercial insurance plans cover ABA since 2011. This bill adds ABA coverage to Medicaid. (A2802, Gottfried)

Hospital Identification and Assistance for Domestic Violence Victims - Establishes procedures for hospitals and emergency rooms to properly identify and assist suspected or confirmed cases of domestic violence. (A2850, Lavine)

Medicaid Eligibility for Youths Leaving Court-Ordered Placement – Releasing youths from juvenile justice facilities without access to health care puts them at risk as they try to transition back into the community. This bill provides presumptive Medicaid eligibility for them while their eligibility applications are processed. (A2927, Barron)

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. (A3050, Simon)

Maternal Mortality Review Board – The United States is worst among industrial democracies in maternal mortality statistics, compounded by severe racial and ethnic disparities. This bill would establish a panel of experts to review cases of maternal mortality, in order to inform policymaking by both health care providers and government agencies. (A3276, Joyner)