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Bill Would Help With Medication Stock Up

A pair of Democrats in the state Legislature want to amend state laws to make sure state residents are better able to stock up on their required medications in the case of a declared emergency.

Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, D-Brooklyn, and state Sen. David Carlucci, D-Rockland/Westchester, have introduced A.10165/S.7989 to amend the state’s Insurance Law and require policies and contracts providing coverage for prescription drugs to include coverage of an immediate additional 30-day supply of a prescription if the state declares a disaster emergency. The legislation allows the state health commissioner to exclude some drugs from emergency prescriptions, including Schedule 2 and Schedule 3 narcotics.

“When preparing for a disaster individuals are advised to stock up on important supplies such as food, water, and basic supplies,” Ortiz wrote in his legislative justification “This includes over the counter medication and prescribed medication that they might need to live or maintain quality of life. Prescriptions are typically refilled monthly; however, in an emergency situation it may be difficult for people to access their prescription. During a state disaster insurance policies may not provide their customers with a process to obtain their prescriptions. This places many New Yorkers at risk of not having their necessary prescription medication during an emergency. Inflexible policies will compound the effect of a disaster by leaving many New Yorkers without their necessary prescription medication.”

Several legislators are pushing A.10172 /S.8041A, which would extend existing benefits for volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers to include exposure to COVID-19 during a state of emergency. It is sponsored in the Assembly by Kimberly Jean-Pierre, D-Wheatley Heights, and in the Senate by Sen. John E. Brooks, D-Massapequa. State Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, is a co-sponsor of the bill in the Senate and will have a chance to weigh in on the bill when it appears before the Senate’s Local Government Committee.

The bill would add new sections to the Volunteer Firefighters’ Benefit Law and the Volunteer Ambulance Workers’ Benefit Law so that, during a declared state of emergency, if volunteer firefighters or ambulance workers are exposed to COVID-19 their home fire departments can authorize immediate testing and treatment. And condition, health impairment or death resulting from COVID-19 would be covered by the appropriate benefits law.

“Our volunteer firefighters, and ambulance workers put their lives on the line to help others without regard for the implications they or their families may face as the result of the dangers associated with their heroism,” Brooks wrote in his legislative justification. “Currently they are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic without coverage under their existing injury and death benefits.”

Assemblyman David Buchwald, D-White Plains, has introduced A.10204 to amend the state’s Retirement and Social Security Law to amend the retiree earnings cap for health care officials and workers during a declared public health emergency. State and local governments would be allowed to hire retired public health officials and workers at any reasonable earning level and exempt those workers from earnings limitations in the Retirement and Social Security Law, which governs the New York State and Local Retirement System, as long as they are working to combat COVID-19.

“During today’s current state of emergency related to the coronavirus pandemic, the public health field is facing an influx of people who need immediate care,” Buchwald wrote in his legislative justification. “In the interest of saving more lives and providing opportunities to retired public health officials, this bill would increase public health staff and give retirees a chance to save lives.”

S. 8117, legislation proposed by Sen. Monica Martinez, D-Brentwood, would create new sections in the state General Municipal Law providing medical care and sick leave if police officers, sheriff’s deputies, corrections, parole and probation officers are exposed to COVID-19 while working and test positive for the virus.

Sen. LeRoy Comrie, D-St. Albans, on Monday introduced S.8119 to amend the state Transportation Law regarding individualized rides provided in New York state. Comrie’s proposal would temporarily suspend in-person eligibility assessments until August, suspend shared rides as much as possible through at least July 31 and require that all paratransit drivers and personnel are given hand sanitizer, disposable gloves and training on COVID-19 preventative measures.

“The coronavirus disease epidemic has changed all aspects of our lives; one particularly vulnerable population are New Yorkers whose only means of travel is via paratransit services,” Comrie wrote in his legislative justification. “This legislation enacts a number of important temporary measures designed to keep the system seamlessly moving and keep everyone safe.”

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