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.
The list would be updated annually.
“The current pandemic has laid bare how crucial hospital care is and how little we know about what care each hospital provides," Rozic said. “No patient should be denied the care they need simply because they had no way to know that their local hospital excluded certain procedures. This legislation will go a long way to ensure New Yorkers have access to the data they deserve in order to make informed decisions about their health care needs.”
Lawmakers pointed to the closure of more than 40 community-based hospitals since 2003. Large health care systems now control more than 70% of acute hospital beds.
In addition to helping patients determine where care is and is not available, lawmakers said the bill would would also give them information prior to admission. This, in turn, would enable patients to make better decisions.
“It’s well past time to strengthen information transparency in our healthcare system. All New Yorkers have the right to know what medical services are available at their local hospital," Hinchey said.
"This is especially important now as we are seeing a wave of hospital consolidations and, therefore, the loss of services in communities across the state. Our legislation will ensure that New Yorkers have access to the information they need to make the most informed health decisions possible for themselves and their families. At the same time, this bill will allow us to identify key service gaps that are leaving entire regions of our state without access to proper types of care. This is a critical step towards greater health equity for all New Yorkers.”