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Monday, February 26, 2024

Hinchey-backed bill to ID ‘healthcare deserts’ passed by full state legislature – Daily Freeman

SAUGERTIES, N.Y. — A state bill designed to identify “healthcare deserts” and crafted with the help of Senator Michelle Hinchey has now passed the full state legislature.

In a statement issued Monday, Hinchey said the bill has been favored by the state Assembly, with Senate approval done in January. Hinchey represents the 41st Senate District.

If Gov. Kathy Hochul signs the bill, The Hospital Transparency Act (S1003A) would require the State Department of Health to collect and annually publish policy-based exclusions from all New York general hospitals on its website and require hospitals to disclose these exclusions as part of its Patients’ Bill of Rights. Hinchey’s office has said.

The bill would also require the department to “publicly report on the impact of service denials, with a focus on variations in access based on community, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status,” Hinchey’s office said.

Policy-based exclusions are healthcare services that hospitals are licensed to deliver but choose not to provide. In recent years, policy-based exclusions have primarily removed reproductive, gender-affirming, and end-of-life care, Hinchey’s office said.

“Across New York State, healthcare services are vanishing from communities due to hospital policies, presenting an especially substantial challenge for people in medically underserved rural areas who often find themselves without access to lifesaving care and nowhere else to turn,” Hinchey said in a statement. “At a time when New Yorkers desperately need more, not less, healthcare services, the Hospital Transparency Act will finally reveal the healthcare deserts formed by these service removals so we can take action to close these dangerous gaps.”

Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, who represents the 25th Assembly District, was the sponsor of the bill in that chamber.

Others in the healthcare field said the measure will help throughout the state.

“We have seen a concerning increase in policy-based exclusions by hospitals across New York, rendering health care deserts that leave patients without health information, access, or options,” said Robin Chappelle Golston, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts, in a statement. “New Yorkers deserve access to the full range of medical care, and this important legislation will mean that the State Department of Health can better measure gaps in care, understand where communities are vulnerable, and allow for greater transparency in care for patients.”

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