Assembly Health Committee Update: 28 Bills Working!

Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried — 

The Assembly Committee on Health favorably reported 28 bills at its meetings on Wednesday, April 22 and Tuesday, April 28, including new legislation authorizing expedited access to medical marijuana and setting safe staffing levels for nurses in hospitals and nursing homes.

Patients, family members, and activists joined legislators for a press conference in support of the medical marijuana bill, introduced 298 days after Governor Cuomo signed the medical marijuana bill into law and nine months after the Governor urged the Health Commissioner to do everything in his power to get medical marijuana to children suffering from life-threatening forms of epilepsy.  To date, not one patient has received medical marijuana, and at least three children who might have benefitted have died since the bill was passed. This legislation would create emergency access to medical marijuana for patients with the most urgent needs – including children suffering from severe epilepsy.

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:


Wednesday, April 22


Podiatric Access – Provides Medicaid managed care enrollees access to the services of a clinic run by a school of podiatric medicine (similar to the provision for dental school clinics). (A1054, Rodriguez)


Autism Assessment Centers  – Authorizes licensing of Comprehensive Autism Assessment Centers that are designed to ensure that children with autism spectrum disorders will receive a comprehensive assessment.  (A1056, Gunther)


Safe Staffing Levels – Requires the Department of Health to set nurse staffing standards for hospitals and nursing homes, to increase quality of care.  (A1548, Gottfried)


Safe Sleeping Practices Education – Requires hospitals and birthing centers to provide leaflets and offer an educational video presentation on safe sleeping practices to new mothers. (A2700, Peoples-Stokes)


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. (A2918, Pretlow)


Community Food Programs - Creates the Community Food Security, Empowerment and Economic Development Program to increase the self-sufficiency of low-income communities in providing for their food needs.  (A3086, Cook)


Improving Indoor Air Quality - Establishes standards, training programs, and compliance investigation methods for indoor air quality in state owned, leased, or operated buildings.  (A3098, Lupardo)


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.  (A3236, Lupardo)


Patient Access to Medical Records – Expands patient access to their own medical records from all health care providers, and prohibits fees when patients request records necessary to claim government benefits. (A3631, Gottfried)


Save Our Sight Program  – Establishes the Save Our Sight Program and Fund to educate children on proper vision care.  (A4003, Wright)


Medicaid Eligibility for Youth in Court-Ordered Placement – Releasing youth 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. (A5923, Barron)


Electronic 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.  (A5955A, Rosenthal)


Tuesday, April 28


Artificial Nutrition and Hydration Standard s – The Family Health Care Decisions Act provides that surrogates must make decisions about artificial nutrition and hydration based on a patient’s wishes or, if no wishes are known, the patient’s best interest. This is the standard for other life-sustaining treatment. However, the 1990 health care proxy law only allows the health care agent to make these decisions based on the patient’s expressed wishes. This bill applies the FHCDA standard to decisions under health care proxies. (A674, Rosenthal)


Technical Corrections to Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) Orders – Repeals sections of Public Health Law related to DNRs that are now covered by the Family Health Care Decisions Act. (A1023, Gunther)


Appointment of Patient Caregivers – Requires hospitals to find out from patients who is a caregiver who can assist with post-hospital aftercare. (A1323A, Rosenthal)


Determining Patient Incapacity – This bill amends Public Health Law and the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act to improve the process of determining patient incapacity to make health care decisions. (A2036, Pretlow)


Hospice Decisions for Patients without Health Care Agents – The Family Health Care Decisions Act (FHCDA) allows the surrogate to make hospice decisions for a patient who lacks capacity. However, FHCDA does not cover hospice decisions for a patient without a surrogate. This bill addresses that gap by creating a process in which an attending physician can make that decision for a hospice-eligible patient. (A2150, Gottfried)


Lupus Education and Outreach Tax Check-off - Creates a Lupus education and outreach program within the Department of Health and allows the Commissioner of Health to make grants.   (A2581, Peoples-Stokes)


Surrogate and Hospital Dispute Resolution – The Family Health Care Decisions Act states that if a surrogate directs provision of life-sustaining treatment but the hospital does not wish to provide it, the hospital must either comply with the surrogate, transfer the patient, or seek court review. This bill clarifies that the hospital may prevail if it is carrying out the patient’s own decision. (A2775, Pretlow)


Fair Prescribing – Prohibits pharmacy benefit managers and health plans from giving financial incentives to health care providers for switching from one prescription drug to another. (A4871, Perry)


Protecting Access to Complex Rehabilitation Equipment – Provides for the Health Department to set standards for complex rehabilitation equipment under Medicaid managed care plans. (A5074, McDonald)


Window Blind Safety Pamphlets – Requires the Health Department to produce pamphlets regarding strangulation risks to children posed by window blind cords. The Department will provide these pamphlets to pediatricians for distribution at children’s six month appointments. (A5804, McDonald)


Food Allergy Awareness  - Requires the Department of Health to establish educational materials and programs about food allergens for public eating establishments, with authority for regulations on disclosure and posting.  (A5944, Ortiz)


Controlled Substances Collection – Authorizes pharmacies to function as collection sites for controlled substances provided they are authorized by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency and in compliance with federal laws and regulations. (A6062, Gunther)  


Nutrition Standards for Meals with Children’s Toys  – Requires the Commissioner of Health to establish nutrition standards for meals sold with incentive items aimed at children.  (A6145, Ortiz)


Technical Corrections to Family Health Care Decisions Act – Makes technical and conforming amendments regarding health care proxies and non-hospital do-not-resuscitate orders under the Family Health Care Decisions Act. (A6936, Clark)


Medical Futility Standard – For over 20 years under previous do-not-resuscitate (DNR) law, a surrogate could consent to a DNR order if the patient met any one of four clinical criteria, one of which was a finding of “medical futility” by two physicians. When DNR orders were made a part of the Family Health Care Decisions Act, however, the legislation neglected to include the “medical futility” standard. This bill restores the previous medical futility standard. (A6966, Gottfried)


Expedited Access to Medical Marijuana – The medical marijuana law signed by the Governor in June 2014 will not take effect until at least January 1, 2016. In the interim, people continue to suffer and die from conditions that could be made better by access to medical marijuana. This legislation would create special certifications for patients for whom a delay in access poses a serious risk to life or health and would allow for expedited registration of producers. (A7060, Gottfried)

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Contact: Mischa Sogut, (518) 455-4941 / (202) 365-5475

Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried822 Legislative Office Building, Albany, NY 12248 – Tel: 518-455-4941250 Broadway, #2232, New York, NY 10007 – Tel:  Twitter: @DickGottfried