End of Session Wrap-Up
When we introduced our Legislative and Policy Agenda in early March 2014 we knew we had a long and hard fight ahead of us to move our issues forward. The legislative process is always full of surprises and very messy here in New York and it is not child-friendly.
The legislative session became especially chaotic in its last two weeks this year. Politics, the Independent Democrats planning to rejoin their Democratic colleagues, disrupted some of the longstanding alliances, and several of our key legislative initiatives were put in peril.
But despite the challenging atmosphere, with your help, visits, calls and e-mails, the NYSAAP ended this legislative session with some real victories and some legislative advances that will be revisited and perhaps reintroduced next year. We can feel good that in a most complex situation, with only our passion for doing the right thing for children and families and for pediatrics, we were able to secure passage of several key pieces of legislation to improve the lives of our patients.
EARLY VICTORIES INCLUDED:
Increases in minimum wage
Funding for universal Pre-K
Additional funding to improve access to and quality of child care
A study to recommend how best to raise the age of adult criminality from the current 16 to 18
No cuts to any vital children’s programs
BY SESSION’S END WE HAD HELPED PASS:
Creates a systematic and legal way for pediatricians and other key health care providers to screen and refer new mothers who may be struggling with postpartum depression. We were devastated last year when the Governor vetoed this legislation even though it passed the Senate and Assembly unanimously. This year we worked with the sponsors, the Governor’s Office, and the Insurance lobby to craft legislation that gives us what we need to work effectively with the families we serve and to ensure the Governor’s signature.
CPR in the schools requires the development of curriculum for high school students to learn CPR and how to use AED’s. We have supported this legislation for the last five years. It finally passed this year.
Allows self-administration of medication for children in school with parents’ and physician’s consent. We were fully supportive of this important step forward to help children and youth handle their chronic illnesses in the school setting.
Authorizes school nurses to possess and administer epinephrine auto-injectors in the event of an emergency. This legislation is one we have supported for several years. This year was the charm.
Prohibits the sale of liquid nicotine to minors under the age of eighteen across the state and under the age of twenty-one in the city of New York; it requires containers of electronic liquid to be child resistant. There were many bills in both houses addressing the issues of electronic cigarettes, but this was the only one to pass both houses. We fully support this first important step to protect children from the dangers of liquid nicotine, but will work to pass legislation that will treat e-cigarettes just like tobacco products. Current data indicates that young people are flocking to e-cigarettes and the dangers are not yet fully known.
Expands access to Naloxone to more people to help save the lives of addicts who overdose with heroin. This legislation passed early in session and will help save lives.
LEGISLATION WE SUPPORTED THAT DID NOT PASS THIS SESSION:
Children’s Safe Products Act: Our coalition came very close to passing this legislation. But in the last weeks of session the chemical industry targeted millions of dollars to lobbying efforts to stop the bill. They got some very negative press for their work to stop this important legislation to protect children from toxic chemicals in their toys and their clothing. But they did stop passage in the Senate. We will work next year to bring it back and move it earlier in session to assure its passage.
Prohibiting Sexual Orientation Change Therapies: This was a new bill this year which garnered significant support. It was a victim on the chaotic end of session messiness. We will work with the sponsor to bring this legislation back next year and look forward to passage early in session.
Safe Storage of Firearms: Although there is broad agreement with the intent of this legislation, there were issues related to this being an election year which complicated gaining individual legislators’ support. We will work with the sponsor to bring this legislation back next session and hope to succeed in passing it at that time.
Centers for Excellence in Children’s Environmental Health: The legislation did not pass, but a legislative add provided the promised $1 million to support and expand the services. We will come back next year and work to secure funding and support going forward.
Collective Bargaining: This is complex legislation that requires the full support of the house of medicine. We will work with MSSNY on a primary care first approach for next year.
Fair Payment for Immunization Purchase and Administration: We will continue to support this important legislative and business issue. The opposition is strong and well financed, but each year we get a little closer to moving this one forward.
As we review our successes and our options to move issues forward next session, we are mindful that the outcomes of the November elections will have a very real impact on our ability to move policy and legislation supportive of children and family health and well-being.
The work we need to do to support pediatricians, the pediatric profession and the development and recognition of the importance of primary care and a Children’s Medical Home and Medical Neighborhood depends on our ability to frame our issues and help our state leaders understand the importance and value of the work we do for the children and families across New York. Working together we can and will improve the lives of the children and families we serve and the pediatricians we represent.
In the fast and ever changing health care service delivery landscape of New York it is more important than ever to speak with a strong voice for children, families and the pediatricians of New York. Advocacy matters. Raise your voice with us and join the chorus for children, families and pediatricians.
For further information, contact Elie Ward, the NYS AAP Director of Policy and Advocacy, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also access the full text of all legislation described by going to http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/