As a member of the Senate Health Committee, crafting and advancing legislation that will help ensure quality health care for New Yorkers is among my top priorities. During the closing days of the 2016 legislative session, a number of important health and mental health bills received approval in both the senate and assembly and will be sent to the governor shortly for his final review and enactment.
Encouraging New Yorkers to Become Organ Donors
Several measures were adopted to encourage more New Yorkers to become organ and tissue donors. The bills focus on enhancing public awareness and increasing the number of New Yorkers who sign up to help save lives through organ, tissue, bone marrow, and blood donation.
One bill in particular, S.5313A, would help increase the number of organ and tissue donors by lowering the age of consent for New Yorkers who choose to become donors. New York is one of only four states in the nation that requires an individual be 18 or older to enroll in an organ and tissue donor registry. This leaves young people without a mechanism to document their consent to donate and puts parents in the difficult situation of having to assume what their teenage children would have wanted should a tragedy occur. This legislation will give New Yorkers aged 16 or older who wish to consent to donation the ability to enroll in the state’s Donate Life Registry. However, in the event that the young person may be considered for organ, eye, or tissue donation, the parents of that individual will be notified and given the final authorization for donation to take place.
Strengthening New York’s Patient Bill of Rights
Senate bill 6347B would require each hospital’s patient bill of rights and responsibilities to include a statement with information including a list of standard charges, participating health plans, the right to be held harmless from surprise bills and emergency services bills, the independent dispute process, and to designate a caregiver upon being discharged.
Protect the Well-Being of Children and Adults Served by Out-of-State Mental Health Facilities
Senate bill 7584 would protect New York’s most vulnerable children and adults by giving necessary authority to the state’s Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs to visit, inspect, and appraise the management of out-of-state schools or facilities that serve New Yorkers.
The senate also passed legislation (S.6622) to remove costs charged for access to clinical mental health records to an agency providing protection and advocacy services to disabled New Yorkers.
Expanding Birth-Delivery Options
Senate bill 4325 would facilitate the expansion of birth choices for women by removing current barriers to the establishment of midwifery birth centers. The measure expands the definition of “hospital” to include a new category of health care facility – a midwifery birth center – under the supervision of a physician or a midwife.
Senate bill 3419C would clamp down on so-called “fail-first” protocols that health insurers use when it comes to prescriptions. The bill gives doctors a transparent process to ensure that patients receive the prescription drugs they need.
Senate bill 6730 would require the state Department of Health to distribute crib safety information to maternity patients detailing safe sleeping procedures for babies; crib product recalls; and disclosure of the federal standards on the manufacture and sale of cribs.
Educating Students about Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases
Senate bill 5804A would help educate and increase awareness among school-aged children to protect them from Lyme disease and tick-borne infections. The bill requires the state to create age-appropriate educational materials that would be readily available to schools so students can learn how to identify ticks, the procedures for safe removal, and the best practices for protection from ticks.