The New York State Legislature recently concluded its 2022 legislative session, with the Assembly adjourning in the morning hours of Saturday, June 4, following the State Senate, which adjourned early on Friday, June 3. Similar to prior years, there was significant activity impacting the health care industry. While the primary focus at the end of the legislative session was to establish protections for those seeking or providing reproductive health care services, the legislation acted on a wide range of health-related legislation designed to increase access to and affordability of health care services, and address workforce concerns.
Here is an overview of some of the most significant legislation with implications for the health care industry:
- Primary Care Reform Commission (A7230B/S6534C): This bill establishes the Primary Care Reform Commission, which will be tasked to define, measure and report on current primary care spending in New York and identify the means to increase the proportion of the health care dollars that go to primary care services across all payers.
- Restrictions on Mandatory Overtime for Nurses (A286A/S1997A, S4885A/A181A, S8063A/A8874B): A trio of bills made significant modifications to existing law, which prohibits mandatory overtime for nurses except under certain circumstances. These bills extend these protections to home care nurses, modify the existing exceptions to establish limits on their duration and include monetary penalties for the violation of overtime protections.
- Clinical Lab Technician Practice (A10162A/S7020B): In an effort to address consistent workforce shortages and pressures in the profession, this bill creates the histotechnician profession in lieu of the histological technician role, aligning the state’s standards with national standards.
- Red Flag Law (A10502/S9113A): This bill authorizes health care providers, including physicians, registered nurses, nurse practitioners and other licensed health care professionals, to file for an extreme risk protection order (Red Flag) against any individual they treated in the six months preceding the filing of the petition.
- Living Donor Support Act (A146A/S1594): This bill establishes a program for living donors who are New York residents to pay for certain expenses that arise due to the act of living donation.
- HEAL Act (A819A/S7199A): This bill prohibits contracts between health insurers and health care providers that contain a most-favored-nation provision or restrict the ability of a health plan to disclose actual claims costs or price information required to be disclosed under federal law, including the allowed amount, negotiated rates or discounts, or any other claim-related financial information.
- Drug Cost-Sharing Calculation (A5411D/S4620C): This bill requires any third-party payment, financial assistance, discount, voucher or other price reduction instrument for out-of-pocket expenses made on behalf of an insured individual for the cost of prescription drugs to be applied to the insured’s cost-sharing requirement when calculating such insured individual’s overall contribution to any out-of-pocket maximum or cost-sharing requirement.
- Medical Debt Collection (A7363A/S6522A): This bill prohibits hospitals and health care providers from placing a lien on an individual’s primary residence or securing wage garnishments to satisfy a judgment in a medical debt action against an individual.
- Wrongful Death Actions (A6770/S74A): This bill adds grievance and anguish to the types of damages that family members may recover in a wrongful death proceeding, expands the classes of persons who may recover those claims, and extends the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim from two years to three and a half years.
One issue on which legislators failed to come to an agreement by the end of the session was a constitutional amendment to secure abortion rights in New York. Despite the legislature’s action on a portfolio of other bills related to reproductive health protection, there remains strong support for establishing a constitutional protection in New York, and that could be addressed if lawmakers are called back to Albany for a special session to address other issues.
Last, it is important to note that the New York Health Act, which would establish a single-payer system to provide universal health care for all New York residents, was not passed by either house in 2022. This bill has been sponsored and championed by Assemblymember Richard Gottfried for over 30 years. With the impending retirement at the end of this year of Assemblymember Gottfried, venerated chair of the Assembly Health Committee, single-payer advocates made a strong push for this legislation to be passed. The legislation remains popular with the progressive wing of the legislature, and we anticipate continued discussion surrounding its principles in next year’s legislative session. Assemblymember Gottfried has had a significant impact on the development of health policy and the evolution of the state’s health care system over the course of his tenure in the legislature. While a successor for his chairmanship has not been named, he is recognized that his deep knowledge and understanding of health policy will be missed.