The Albany legislative session is drawing to a close, with only 10 scheduled working days remaining (including today). Here’s a rundown of some of our top issues:
- Single Payer (A.5248/S.3577) The New York Health Act would create a free health insurance program for all State residents. Assembly Health Chair Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan) and Senate Health Chair Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx) held a joint hearing on the bill on May 28. Although a version of the bill has been passed by the Assembly in each of the past four years, it is unlikely to reach the Senate floor this session, Assembly Member Gottfried and Senator Rivera have said. The two plan to hold further hearings on the issue across the State.
- Pharmacy Technicians (S.5162) Highly trained pharmacy technicians have been assisting hospital pharmacists for decades, but a recent policy change by the State Education Department (SED) has created uncertainty about whether they can continue in their jobs. On May 7, GNYHA member pharmacists and pharmacy techs participated in a lobby day on the issue. On May 30, the Senate passed legislation to end this disruption in hospital operations. SED and the Legislature are working to find a solution before this year’s session ends. More information can be found in ML-61.
- Forced Nurse Staffing Ratios (A.2954/S.1032) GNYHA strongly opposes legislation mandating forced nurse staffing ratios that would deny hospitals the flexibility to make real-time patient care decisions and respond to emergencies. There is no evidence that forced ratios improve patient care, and Massachusetts voters resoundingly rejected them at the ballot box last November. On May 21, GNYHA, our members, and allied organizations participated in a lobby day on the issue.
- Medical Liability (various bills) New York State’s medical malpractice costs are by far the nation’s highest. New York providers paid a total of $685 million in malpractice costs in 2018, an 11% increase from 2017. This increase is partly the result of a 2017 law that lengthened New York’s already generous medical malpractice statute of limitations. Now, the trial lawyers are pushing numerous other misguided bills that would only increase New York’s already sky-high medical malpractice costs. Their current focus appears to be S.4006/A.5612, which would greatly expand wrongful death damages. GNYHA will continue to advocate against piecemeal medical malpractice legislation that will only erode our health care system. More information on these medical malpractice bills can be found in our updated talking points.
- Prevailing Wage (A.1261/S.1947) GNYHA believes that hospital projects should be exempt from a bill that would require contracts for qualifying public works projects to reflect the prevailing wage in the region. The fragile financial condition of many New York hospitals makes State financial support critical for hospital construction projects, such as to expand inpatient capacity and ambulatory care. The bill would substantially increase the cost and regulatory burden of hospital construction projects that rely on public financing and would jeopardize hospitals’ ability to make necessary infrastructure improvements.