Healthcare

Gillibrand calls for funding to combat postpartum depression

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The federal government should increase funding for a maternal mental health hotline that is meant to address postpartum depression in new mothers, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Tuesday.

Gillibrand is seeking a $2 million increase in funding for the program, part of the Health Resrouces and Service Administration. The hotline was first put in place earlier this yar to provide 24-hour emergency contact for mothers and families who are struggling.

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Union says more mental health treatment options needed

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York's largest public workers union on Monday called for expanded treatment options for mental health services as public health advocates worry anxiety and depression are on the rise amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Civil Service Employees Association is making the push as part of Mental Health Awareness Month, but also weeks after lawmakers approved a $212 billion state budget that reduced the number of state-operated treatment beds in New York, a move the union opposed.

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Lawmakers want parity for mental and physical health in New York

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

State lawmakers want mental health placed on equal footing with physical health in New York — and are seeking a constitutional amendment to do so.

Sen. Elijah Reichlin-Melnick, Sen John Mannion and Assemblywoman Didi Barrett on Wednesday proposed a constitutional amendment that would seek to raise the profile of mental health needs in New York.

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Single-payer health care measure advances

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A bill that would pave the way for a single-payer health care system in New York cleared the Assembly Health Comittee on Monday as its supporters argue the measure is needed following the COVID-19 pandemic exposing deep flaws in the current system.

Opponents, however, continued to argue on Monday the bill would be ruinous for the state's finances as well as for employment in the health care sector.

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Why a Lawmaker Wants More Oversight for Nursing Homes

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The state comptroller's office should be empowered to conduct a thorough audit of New York's nursing home policies and regulations in order to give a full accounting of the problems the facilities faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, state Sen. Sue Serino on Wednesday proposed.

The proposal comes as state lawmakers are considering a variety of nursing home-related measures this week and as the Legislature moved to fully repeal immunity provisions first put in place last year for the facilities that shielded them from lawsuits

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Health and Community Groups Back Cigarette Tax Hike for New York

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A coalition of dozens of health and community organizations in New York backed a push for a $1-per-pack increase in the state's cigarette tax.

The groups this month released a letter to top state lawmakers in the Democratic-controlled state Senate and Assembly calling for the tax increase as a public health benefit, as well as a way of raising revenue.

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Rochester Advocates Push for the New York Health Act

BY Lowell Rose Rochester
UPDATED 10:31 PM ET Mar. 05, 2021

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — After years of trying to get the New York Health Act passed in the state legislature, advocates are pushing again.

“Insurance should not be an issue between life or death, between having a limb or not having a limb, we have to fix this,” Rev. Myra Brown, pastor of Spiritus Christi Church.

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Bill Would Address "Deserts" in Health Care Coverage

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Two state lawmakers in New York want to address health care "deserts" -- gaps in coverage that can make it harder for people to get the care they need.

Assemblywoman Nily Rozic and Sen. Michelle Hinchey on Thursday announced the bill to address the issue, requiring the state Department of Health to compile a list of policy-based exclusions from each general hospital and have it published.

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New York Moves to Restore Some Funding for Disability Service Providers

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Last year the state moved to cut spending amid a $1.2 billion decline in revenue, leading to steep reductions in aid for programs that provide services to people with developmental disabilities.

But on Wednesday, the state moved to restore what had amounted to a 20% withholding of funds first imposed last year amid the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities announced in a memo. But permanent cuts of 5% are still on the horizon for providers and much of their budgets will be shaped by what New York receives in federal aid over the next several weeks.

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What to Watch for in Today's Health Committee Hearing

BY Susan Arbetter City of Albany

In any other year, the joint legislative budget hearing on healthcare scheduled for Thursday would have been a typical event, featuring a line-up of experts and stakeholders discussing an alphabet soup of acronyms and Medicaid numbers.

Instead, with the state’s Health Department at the nexus of the Cuomo administration’s nursing home scandal, the hearing is expected to focus more on Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker and his role in delaying nursing home data requested by lawmakers.

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Church Groups Oppose Prescription Drug Change

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Dozens of community churches from around New York this week in a letter raised concerns with a proposal to change how prescription drugs are purchased in the Medicaid program which advocates fear could drive up the cost of medications used to treatment ailments like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C.

Known as a prescription drug carve out, the move is meant to save $87 million and help streamline the Medicaid program, taking in part recommendations of a panel meant to reduce the cost of one of most expensive safety net programs in the program.

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Health Department Releases More Nursing Home Data

BY Morgan McKay City of Albany

On Wednesday night, the New York State Health Department fulfilled in part the terms of a lawsuit won by the Empire Center, a conservative-leaning think tank, and released more detailed information on COVID-19 related nursing home resident deaths.

State Health Department officials confirm that 15,049 residents died while either in nursing homes, adult care facilities, and assisted living facilities across the state or outside of them during the pandemic.

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Key Health Care Union Launches Ad Campaign in Hopes of Spurring Changes at Nursing Homes

BY Morgan McKay City of Albany

The largest health care union in the country announced it will be launching a multi-million dollar campaign to push for changes in New York’s nursing home industry.

Citing the New York Attorney General’s report that showed facilities with fewer staff had a higher rate of COVID-19 deaths, 1199SEIU officials say they are supporting legislation that will remove liability protections for nursing home owners and increase staffing levels at facilties.

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More than 40 Lawmakers Oppose Medicaid Prescription Drug Change

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Opposition in the state Legislature is growing to changes to how prescription drugs are paid for in the state's Medicaid program, with more than 40 lawmakers backing a letter to reverse the policy.

At issue is the state's plan to "carve out" Medicaid prescription drugs that advocates and lawmakers worry will hurt safety net providers that participate in what's known as the 340B program.

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New York Extends Open Enrollment for Health Care Marketplace

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The open enrollment period for applying for coverage in the state's health marketplace has been extended to March 31, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday said.

The governor's office said this was in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has been resurgent this winter.

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Failure to Thrive: Experts Say Social Isolation Likely Contributing to Elderly Deaths

BY Cait McVey Florida

The elderly, particularly those in long-term care, have proven extremely vulnerable throughout the pandemic. But experts say well-intentioned measures to keep them safe are also taking a toll.

John Thombleson was an Army vet and an FSU graduate who spent more than 30 years as a principal in the Duval County School District. But, most importantly, his daughter tells Spectrum News he was a wonderful father.

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Brindisi Calls on DOJ to End Support of Lawsuit That Could "Gut" Affordable Care Act

BY Spectrum News Staff Central NY

U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi expressed concern Wednesday about a pending Supreme Court case that he says could end health protections for many people. The case, California v. Texas, addresses the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act in light of provisions included in the 2017 tax cut bill signed into law by President Trump.

Brindisi wants the Department of Justice to end its support for the lawsuit as he says it could “gut” the Affordable Care Act.

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New York Launches Pandemic Pregnancy Task Force

BY Morgan McKay New York State

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration on Monday launched a task force to examine best practices for pregnant women during this pandemic.

Melissa DeRosa, the governor’s top aide, and the New York Sate Council on Women and Girls created a COVID-19 maternity task force that will look at authorizing and certifying birthing centers as an alternative to going to a hospital.

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Outrage Over Virginity Testing

BY Spectrum News NY1 New York City

For reasons no one can fathom, the rapper T.I. announced on a podcast last November that he brings his daughter to the doctor every year for a virginity test. Then, he gleefully shared the results of her latest test. That series of statements sparked outrage among women’s rights advocates and pretty much women in general. Part of that outrage stemmed from the fact that not a lot of people knew Virginity Testing was a thing. Those who did thought it was something that happened in far-off lands and in “other cultures." In truth, it happens right here, a lot. A 2016 report showed that one in 10 gynecologists had been asked to perform virginity tests on patients. The tests have been described as “intrusive” and “barbaric,” and organizations like the World Health Organization, the United Nations and U.N.Women have demanded they be stopped. But how do you change cultural rituals that have been around for, in some cases, thousands of years. Lori Sokol and Nayaba Arinde have been fighting for women’s rights for a very long time. They join In Focus to talk about why this is wrong on so many levels. Dr. Deborah Ottenheimer is a woman’s health professional who has been asked by her patients to do virginity tests. She’ll explain why, even though she knows they are meaningless and even though she knows the practice is wrong, she will do them when asked by the patient, though not the more intrusive tests.

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Will a Ban Actually End Virginity Testing?

BY Spectrum News NY1 New York City

State Senator Roxanne Persaud is sponsoring the bill to ban Virginity Testing in the Senate. She, too, was outraged by the T.I. incident, and has been working alongside Assembly Member Solages to have the practice outlawed. She’ll talk about why she believes it is so important in the age of #MeToo to protect women from having to take these tests, and she’ll talk about working to get other legislators to sign on to the bill, an effort that’s been very successful, she says, so far. She’ll also speak to why she agrees doctors need to be the focus of the bill, and how the medical community should be responsible for its front-line enforcement. And she’ll say why she believes, even though young women may be forced to find other means of having the testing done, step one needs to be stopping the medical community from performing virginity tests.

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The Bill to Ban Virginity Testing

BY Spectrum News NY1 New York City

Assembly Member Michaelle Solages was so incensed by the T.I. story, she immediately began working on legislation to make Virginity Testing illegal in New York State. Her bill would impose harsh penalties on any doctor in the state who performs virginity tests, including losing their licenses and possible prison time. It would also make tests done by people who are not medical professionals illegal, and those people would face charges of sexual abuse. The legislation, which actually amends existing public health law, would not allow virginity testing, even at the patient’s request. She’ll tell us why she believes putting doctors at the sharp end of this is the best way to halt the practice, and she’ll share the stories she’s heard from women who have been forced to go through virginity tests and lived with the humiliation for the rest of their lives.

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Lawmakers, Advocates Want 3-Digit Suicide Hotline

BY Morgan McKay New York State

A bill that would create a three digit suicide hotline number was introduced in both the Senate and Assembly.

By changing the number to three digits, similar to 911, it could change how people view thoughts of suicide and treat it as an emergency, said Sen. David Carlucci, one of the sponsors of the measure.

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Drug Costs Remain An Issue For Older New Yorkers

BY Morgan McKay New York State

Nearly one in four New Yorkers over the age of 50 skipped taking their prescription medications in the last two years. The main reason? Cost.

More than 80 percent of those polled by AARP, including Republicans, Democrats and Independents, said that the government is not doing enough to combat high prescription drug prices.

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Health Officials Extend Vaping Products Ban Amid Legal Challenge

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A panel at the state Department of Health on Thursday moved to extend the state’s ban on flavored vaping products as it faces a legal challenge from an industry group.

The ban, first approved in September, was set to expire this weekend after a 90 day clock wound down. Enforcement of the ban itself has been delayed by a court order amid the lawsuit from the Vaping Association.

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