The health care bills that passed the New York state Legislature this session
Another, S.8113/A.879, would require that an insurance company or health maintenance organization’s clinical peer reviewer be in the same or a similar specialty as the clinicians whose decisions they are reviewing. The Greater New York Hospital Association said it has long supported the bill, because its members are often concerned about reviewers’ credentials.
Lawmakers also approved two restrictions on step therapy, S.5909/A.3276 and S.8191/A.9267, which are protocols used by health plans that require patients to “fail first” on a less-costly medication before covering a more expensive treatment. The New York Health Plan Association, the local trade association for insurers, has said the two bills would restrict plans’ “ability to contain out-of-control prices drug companies charge.”
Dr. Parag Mehta, president of the Medical Society of the State of New York, said in a statement that the legislative session was a “mixed bag.” He cited several bills that he said would reduce “excessive hassles” in accessing medical care and prescription drugs, but shared concerns of “huge adverse consequences” from a bill, A.6770/S.74-A, to expand damages permitted in wrongful death actions.
Bea Grause, president of the Healthcare Association of New York State, which also opposed the bill, said it would have a significant effect on medical malpractice premiums. The bill, which passed both houses, would permit recovery of damages for emotional loss and extend the time permitted to bring a wrongful death case.
The Living Donor Act, S.1594/A.146, passed with a broad coalition of support. If signed into law, it would reimburse kidney donors for non-medical costs associated with surgery to donate the organ, in an effort to increase donations.
The New York State Nurses Association heralded the passage late Friday of a trio of bills—S.8063A/A.8874B, S.4885A/A.181A and A.286A/S.1997A—that would limit mandatory overtime for nurses during unforeseen events, extend protections to home care nurses and impose a fine for violations.
One notable bill that did not pass both houses included S.7625/A.8441, which would have required hospitals to standardize their financial assistance policies and was part of a larger legislative package to tackle medical debt.
Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, who chairs his chamber’s health committee, said the bill stalled in that chamber after some Assembly staff members said they were concerned it would burden safety-net hospitals.
“I don’t think it was a valid concern, but in the closing hours of the session we were not able to overcome that,” he said.
The other two measures in that package—a bill requiring that patients be notified before being billed facility fees not covered by insurance and a bill to prohibit hospitals from garnishing indebted patients’ wages or placing liens on their homes —passed both houses.
Bills that passed the Assembly and Senate now head to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s desk to be signed or vetoed. Lawmakers will be back in session in January. —Maya Kaufman