December 22, 2023
Albany, NY

Governor Hochul Takes Action to Protect Public Health, Signs Legislative Package to Support Patients

Governor Hochul Takes Action to Protect Public Health, Signs Legislative Package to Support Patients

Legislation S.1196-A/A.1673-A Ensures State-Regulated Insurance Plans Cover Biomarker Testing to Improve Health Outcomes

Legislation S.6897/A.7328 Will Help Address Staffing Shortages in Nursing Homes and Other Residential Health Care Facilities

Legislation S.6641-A/A.7365 Provides Reimbursements for Certain Home Health Services

Legislation S.6521/A.3089 Re-Establishes the Adult Cystic Fibrosis Assistance Program to Reimburse Adults with Cystic Fibrosis for Their Health Care or Health Insurance Costs

Legislation S.5890-A/A.2853-B Authorizes Life Insurers to Establish Wellness Programs to Prohibit Insurers from Reducing Long-Term Disability Insurance Benefits

Legislation S.7211/A.7218 Improves the Reporting and Resolution of Issues at Residential Care Facilities

Traducción al español

Governor Kathy Hochul today signed a legislative package to protect public health in New York State. The six new laws will ensure state-regulated health plans cover biomarker testing to improve health outcomes for patients; help address staffing shortages in nursing homes and other residential health care facilities; provide administrative relief to certain local health departments for services they provide in a patient’s home; re-establish the Adult Cystic Fibrosis Assistance Program to reimburse adults with cystic fibrosis for their health care or health insurance costs; authorize life insurers to establish wellness programs to prohibit insurers from reducing long-term disability insurance benefits; provide administrative relief to certain local health departments for services they provide in a patient’s home; and improve the reporting and resolution of issues at residential care facilities.

“Every New Yorker deserves to lead a safe, healthy life,” Governor Hochul said. “From expanding access to breast cancer testing to addressing staffing shortages in nursing homes, this legislative package addresses many of the critical issues facing our public health system today."

New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said, “Governor Hochul continues to provide the tools necessary to ensure our public health system leads the nation in improving health outcomes for all. Among these new laws are provisions that will help us address staffing challenges that impact our most vulnerable New Yorkers, provide necessary reimbursements for specialized health care, and authorize insurance providers to create wellness programs that bar insurers from decreasing long-term disability insurance benefits. I thank the Governor for ensuring the State continues to ensure access to quality health care for all New Yorkers.”

Legislation S.1196-A/A.1673-A requires state-regulated insurance plans, including Medicaid, to cover biomarker testing for diagnosis, treatment, appropriate management, or ongoing monitoring of a patient’s disease or condition when the test is supported by medical and scientific evidence.

State Senator Roxanne Persaud said, "Biomarker testing has rapidly become an integral part of healthcare, as research has shown that it drastically improves outcomes for patients suffering from various illnesses and conditions, including different forms of cancer, arthritis, Parkinson's, and more. After months of dedicated effort, I'm delighted that we can give millions more New Yorkers the gift of access to this life-saving treatment just as we approach the holidays. I want to thank my cosponsor, Assembly Member Pamela Hunter, Governor Kathy Hochul, the American Cancer Society, and many other organizations who enthusiastically supported this legislation and ultimately made it possible. We would not be celebrating this achievement today without the unwavering support of those organizations and individuals who recognized that this is an issue about saving lives. Access to timely diagnosis and targeted treatment has been given a huge boost, and I am proud of our accomplishment."

Assemblymember Pamela Hunter said, "As medical capabilities progress and patients begin to see greatly improved health outcomes, we should strive to make the benefits of these new advancements as equitable as possible. With biomarker tests, patients will have access to new information that will guide treatment in a way that is more tailored to the individual. Additionally, this will help conserve medical resources as patients are given treatments that are most likely to yield results instead of going through a period of trial and error. I am proud to have sponsored this bill in New York State and I thank Governor Hochul for signing this vital legislation into law to significantly broaden the availability of these lifesaving tests."

Legislation S.6897/A.7328 will help address the staffing challenges associated with the pandemic that have driven an increase in the use of temporary agency staff throughout health care, including in nursing homes. The legislation will establish a four-year demonstration project to reduce the use of temporary staffing agencies in residential health care facilities by incentivizing a reduction in the use of temporary agency staff and better focus resources on full-time staff continuity.

Legislation S.6641-A/A.7365 will allow local health departments to provide "light touch" core public health services in the home without being subjected to all of the requirements of a licensed home care services agency.

Assemblymember Amy Paulin said, “Assemblymember Amy Paulin said, “Relieving administrative and financial burdens from health care providers is always needed, especially at this time when our health care system is struggling with work force shortages and financial issues in the aftermath of Covid. I thank Governor Hochul for signing these bills into law which support our health departments, skilled nursing facilities, and ultimately New York’s health care system.”

Legislation S.6521/A.3089 re-establishes the Adult Cystic Fibrosis Assistance Program to reimburse the cost of providing health care or health insurance to eligible individuals who have cystic fibrosis.

State Senator Kevin Thomas said, “I want to thank Governor Hochul for signing the Adult Cystic Fibrosis Assistance Program into law, ensuring that those battling this challenging disease have access to the support they need. This is a crucial step to alleviate the strain on adults with cystic fibrosis by reimbursing their healthcare expenses enabling them to receive treatments and maintain their well-being without undue financial burden.”

Assemblymember Stacey Pheffer Amato said, “After years of advocacy, we have arrived at this monumental moment. This legislation streamlines a difficult process and will now allow individuals and families battling with CF to have access to the resources they deserve. Thank you Governor Hochul for signing this bill, and a very special thank you to the Fox family from my district who have been amazing champions of this issue and working to bring this legislation to life and improve the lives of New Yorkers.”

Legislation S.5890-A/A.2853-B authorizes life insurers to establish wellness programs in conjunction with the issuance of life insurance policies to ensure full or partial reimbursement for the cost of a device and associated subscription that can be used to track activity or biometric data and discounts on life insurance and on products or services intended to incent positive behavioral changes.

Assemblymember Demond Meeks said, “It is essential that the members of our community be able to prioritize their health and well-being as needed. Life insurance is not only a safety net, but a form of preventive care that provides security and peace of mind to individuals and their families. This legislation will allow New Yorkers to participate in wellness programs provided by life insurance companies, enabling policyholders to take full advantage of the benefits available to them. Thank you to Senator Breslin, Governor Kathy Hochul, the members of the Life Insurance Council of New York (LICONY), my state colleagues, and our staunch advocates for supporting the welfare of the people of New York.”

Legislation S.7211/A.7218 improves the reporting and resolution of issues at residential care facilities by establishing regular communication between long-term care ombudsmen who receive complaints and the investigators of those complaints.

State Senator Cordell Cleare said, "It is vitally important that our seniors, along with their families and caregivers, have access to information and assistance from professionals who understand them and can advocate effectively on their behalf. For many people in long-term care facilities, the Ombudsman will be the first and possibly the only person to interact with them and communicate with relevant agencies, on their behalf. Once the Ombudsman program receives the adequate funding, I have no doubt countless lives will be saved through these interventions and we can avoid the tragic deaths experienced by our seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic. I am looking forward to working with the Ombudsman program to help engage and recruit a diverse croups of advocates who will support this critical work."

Assemblyman Ron Kim said, "I thank Governor Hochul for signing our legislation S7211/A7218 to continue improving the state’s long-term care ombudsman program (LTCOP). This is a critical step toward building the state’s capacity to oversee and monitor facilities tasked with caring for our most vulnerable people. Today, too many families fear that nursing homes, and rehab centers are cutting corners and neglecting their loved ones. By ensuring the ombudsmen are trained in cultural sensitivity and required to follow up on complaints, these families may rest a little easier."

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