New York Legislative Wrap-Up

Last week we wrote about key issues still on the table in the waning days of the legislative session.  Lawmakers worked into the wee hours of Saturday morning and below is an update on where those key issues stand now:

Ethics: The agreement would strip state pensions from public officials convicted of corruption which requires a change to New York’s Constitution that would have to be approved by voters. The proposed amendment will be voted on again next year before it can go to voters for approval. The agreement also strengthens prohibitions on political campaigns’ ability to coordinate with independent expenditure committees; changes disclosure rules to require political consultants to identify clients and expands reporting requirements to cover smaller lobbying efforts.

Heroin: The Senate and Assembly passed a package of bills introduced by Cuomo to address the scourge of heroin abuse and opioid deaths in New York. The package would make about a dozen changes in state law and regulations. including limiting the supply of opioids that can be prescribed to patient; prohibiting insurers from requiring prior authorization for heroin treatment; and allowing families to get a three-day, involuntary hold for addicted loved ones in treatment facilities.  Patients can also now go for 14 days of treatment instead of only 7 without prior approval from their health insurance carrier.

Fantasy sports – A bill legalizing online daily fantasy sports was approved by the Assembly and Senate and now awaits the Governor’s signature.

“Brunch” bill – The bill will enable restaurants to sell alcohol at 10 a.m. on Sundays to accommodate brunches, ending a century-old blue law tradition. The deal also allows restaurants to get up to 12 waivers a year to sell booze at 8 a.m. on Sundays in areas outside New York City.

Lead testing for water – A bill was passed that would require the state departments of health and education to set testing and safety standards for public school tap water and require schools to report the results to the state.
The effort would be largely funded by the state through its school building aid formula.

Other notable legislation:

Safety Net Hospitals: the bill changes the definition of safety net hospitals so that an enhanced Medicaid rate will be available to those hospitals where at least half the patients are on Medicaid or are uninsured.

Step Therapy: The bill changes so-called ”fail first” protocols that health insurers use when it comes to prescription medications. Under ”fail first” a patient is supposed try several attempts at responding to a formulary or prescribed medication approved by an insurer before moving on to try what could a costlier drug. The bill, which is awaiting the Governor’s signature, creates a clear appeals process for doctors who feel that ”fail first” isn’t helping their patients.