The Council will also vote to provide peer support to veterans seeking mental health services
City Hall, NY – COVID-19 spotlights the importance of preventative healthcare to protect our families, our communities, and ourselves yet an estimated 12 percent of New Yorkers are uninsured and, studies show, as a result are less likely to seek regular preventative healthcare services. Today, the Council will vote to broaden access to primary care for New Yorkers who do not qualify for or cannot afford health insurance.
The bill builds on successful models of delivering coordinated community-based primary care services nationwide and piloted in New York City via ActionHealthNYC through partnership of H+H facilities and federally qualified health centers but left out of the Mayor’s NYCCare plan.
To help veterans in New York City seeking mental health services, the Council will vote to require the city Department of Veterans’ Services to create a hotline to provide peer support services and information to veterans. The hotline would be staffed by certified veteran peer specialists to provide counseling and referral services for callers.
The Council will also vote on legislation to accelerate the timeline for equipping trucks and other large vehicles in the City fleet with side guards and expand the side guard requirement to large vehicles fulfilling City contracts. The installation of these side guards can help prevent death and serious injuries from crashes in which a motorist, pedestrian, or cyclist is pulled beneath a large truck following an impact with the side of a vehicle—known as “underrides.”
To address female genital mutilation and cutting in the New York City metropolitan area, where an estimated 65,893 women and girls at risk of this practice, the Council will vote on a bill to establish an advisory committee, led by the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence aimed at issuing recommendations to engage communities and agencies in decreasing, and eventually eliminating, female genital mutilation and cutting in the City, including for those at risk of vacation cutting. In doing so, the advisory committee would also identify community-based and culturally-responsive resources for people who have undergone female genital mutilation and cutting, the information from which will be included in the agency’s annual report.
Finally, the Council will vote on legislation to ensure that people won’t incur late fees or interest on payments owed to the city after a system failure that disables a City website. Following the restoration of the website, this bill would establish a 48-hour grace period for any system failure at that lasted 24 hours or longer, and affected City agencies would also have the discretion to extend the grace period by seven days if necessary.
Creates health access program
Int. 1668-A, sponsored by Council Member Mark Levine and the Speaker, will require the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene or another agency or entity so designated by the Mayor to develop and manage a Primary Care Services and Patient Navigation Program (PCSPNP), which would provide primary care services and applicable patient navigator services. Such services would be offered by medical service providers, including H+H facilities, FQHCs, and other not-for-profit and private medical service providers. PCSPNP would need to ensure that that primary care services are provided in each community district and that at least one participating acute care hospital providing specialty services is provided in each borough, and would also be required to offer a telemedicine service providing access for patients 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
The proposed legislation intends to broaden access to primary care services in the City, especially for uninsured New Yorkers.
“The last year and a half has shown us just how critical a strong foundation of primary care is to the health of Americans. Expanding access to primary care means improving the health of vulnerable communities who are the most impacted by the pandemic,” said Speaker Corey Johnson. “I’m proud of this bill which will expand access to primary care in New York City, especially for uninsured New Yorkers. It is more important now than ever to make sure no one is shut out of the health care they need to survive and thrive.”
“The pandemic has laid bare the stark systemic inequalities inherent in our city’s healthcare system-with hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, including undocumented immigrants, lacking the basic security of health insurance during the largest public health crisis in our history,” said City Council Health Chair Mark Levine. “We have seen the dire consequences the lack of access to quality services has for our city as a whole. New York City needs a primary care program for the uninsured that reaches into every neighborhood I every borough. We need to tap the resources not just of our public hospitals but the community-based clinics that are rooted in every immigrant communities we are seeking to reach. This legislation will ensure that our ciy gets this right, that we go big, and that we create a program on a scale comparable to the massive challenges our city—and especially immigrants—are facing during and after this pandemic.”
According to data from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), roughly 12 percent of New York City adult residents do not have health insurance. Studies show that uninsured individuals are less likely to receive needed preventative care and services.
New York City’s Health and Hospitals (H+H) is the largest provider of health care to New Yorkers who are uninsured. To increase healthcare access for New Yorkers, specifically for those who are uninsured, H+H and the Mayor’s Office launched NYC Care in 2019, which guarantees low-cost and no-cost services to New Yorkers who do not qualify for or cannot afford health insurance, provided through H+H. However, federally qualified health centers FQHCs) currently do not participate in the NYC Care program. FQHCs are community-based health care providers that receive funds from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) Health Center Program and provide primary care in underserved areas. According to the Community Health Care Association of New York State (CHCANYS), New York City has over 500 sites that are a part of FQHCs, and these sites serve 1.3 million patients, or one out of every seven New Yorkers in the City. Most people who visit FQHCs receive Medicaid or coverage through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), amounting to 63 percent of total patients as of 2019, while 14 percent are uninsured, 18 percent have commercial insurance, and 5 percent have Medicare.
This bill would take effect one year after it becomes law.
Installation of side guards
Int. 1789-A, sponsored by Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, would accelerate the existing timeline for equipping all large vehicles in the City fleet with side guards, from January 1, 2024, to January 1, 2023. Starting with contracts registered with the Comptroller after January 1, 2023, side guards would also be required for large vehicles utilized to fulfill contracts with the City of at least $2 million. The bill would require that agency contracts involving covered vehicles contain the side guard requirement, and penalties of up to $4,000 per vehicle could be issued for lack of compliance.
“As Chair of the transportation committee, I have been committed to ensuring all pedestrians and cyclists remain safe on our streets. I have spoken with advocates and the private and public sector stakeholders in an effort to craft rapid and appropriate solutions to eliminate truck-related fatalities in New York City. The increase in rapid deliveries has also increased the necessity of large trucks. We need to set up all safety measures to ensure we are keeping New Yorkers safe and side-guards are crucial to keeping pedestrians and cyclists from harms way,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chairman of the Transportation Committee. “Other countries already mandate that vehicle manufacturers install side-guards before they go onto the streets. Studies from other jurisdictions that require side guards, like the United Kingdom, have shown that they are extremely effective in preventing fatalities from these kinds of crashes. I thank Speaker Johnson for his support as well as all the advocates, Transportation Alternatives, Families for Safe Streets, and all stakeholders for their support in pushing this bill forward.”
At least 243 people were killed in traffic crashes last year in New York City, a record high since the introduction of the “Vision Zero” program in 2014. Fatalities and serious injuries from underrides – incidents in which a motorist, pedestrian or cyclist is pulled beneath a large truck following a crash – can be easily mitigated through the installation of side guards.
This bill would take effect immediately.
Peer support services for veterans
Int. 0647-A, sponsored by Council Member Mathieu Eugene, will require the Department of Veterans’ Services (DVS), in partnership with local veteran service organizations, to establish a telephone hotline to provide peer support services and information to veterans. The bill requires the hotline be staffed by certified veteran peer specialists. The veteran peer specialists will provide counseling and referral services for callers. DVS would be required to post the peer support hotline telephone number and the hours of operation on its website.
“As the former Chair of The Committee on Veterans and a longtime supporter of veteran organizations throughout New York City, I am proud to sponsor Intro 647-A, legislation to require the Department of Veterans Services to coordinate with veteran service organizations to establish a hotline to provide peer support services and information to veterans,” said Council Member Mathieu Eugene. “Our service members are brave individuals who have risked their lives to protect our freedoms. As a society, we must do more to address the mental, physical, and emotional trauma that they experience as a result of war, and to provide more options to help them heal and recover when they return home. I believe this legislation is a critical component in the ongoing process to create a more supportive environment for our returning veterans, and I am confident that by working together we will be able to improve our mental health resources for service members.”
Trauma and stress experienced during military service can leave veterans suffering from mental health conditions as well as substance use disorders. Peer support services are valuable tools to help both transitioning service members and members who have been removed from service for some time lead fulfilling and productive post-service lives.
Peer support services can be defined as an evidenced-based mental health model of care that provides community-based recovery services directly to an eligible veteran diagnosed with a mental health or substance use disorder. Peer support provides veterans with a setting for discussion with fellow veterans who also share similar experiences. Women veterans also benefit from peer support that is geared towards the specific challenges they face transitioning back into civilian life.
The bill would take effect 180 days after it becomes law.
WOMEN AND GENDER EQUITY
Establishes advisory committee to tackle female genital mutilation and cutting
Int. No. 1828– A, sponsored by Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel, will establish an advisory committee on FGM/C within the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence (ENDGBV), headed by the ENDGBV commissioner, with an aim of issuing recommendations to engage communities and agencies in decreasing, with the goal of eventually eliminating, the practice of FGM/C in the city. The advisory committee would also be tasked with identifying supportive community-based and culturally-responsive resources for people who have undergone FGM/C. The mayor would be responsible for appointing advisory committee members and the advisory committee would be required to meet a minimum of two times per year for two years, after which time ENDGBV would assess the continued need for such advisory committee. ENDGBV would also be required to report on the advisory committee’s activities in its annual report, or if the advisory committee were dissolved, continue to include a description of the office’s work in relation to FGM/C in its annual report.
Quite often, the practice of FGM/C leads to depression, anxiety, PTSD, major blood loss, tissue swelling, urinary problems, blood infections, and possibly death.,” said Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel. “Many women have reached out for our help and advocacy related to health education and resources to assist with community level outreach here in New York City. Some are trying to escape genital mutilation of their daughters while seeking comfort in familiar communities. Ironically, although rising in NYC, Female Genital Mutilation is prohibited in many of the African and Middle Eastern countries where the practice is popular. Today we are acting to employ preventive measures to protect women and girls who call NYC home in a culturally competent way that allows all people to maintain cultural practices that speak to good health and prosperity.”
Female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C) is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” While FGM/C is a historical and cultural practice performed in over 30 countries, it has no known health benefits, and women and girls who have undergone FGM/C procedures are at great risk of suffering both short- and long-term health complications, including increased risks during childbirth, psychological trauma, and even death. The risk for FGM/C is especially high in areas with substantial ties to countries where FGM/C is legal or frequently practiced. The state of New York is considered a “hotbed” for the practice, second only to California, and the New York-Newark-Jersey City Metro Area ranks first in the U.S. among all metropolitan areas for the practice, with an estimated 65,893 women and girls at risk of FGM/C.
This bill would take effect 90 days after it becomes law.
Grace period for online payments
Int. 1152-A, sponsored by Council Member Peter Koo, will ensure that in the event that an electronic system failure that disables a City website used to make online payments, following the restoration of the website, persons are able to make payments owed to the City, without incurring late fees or interest. Specifically, this bill would establish a 48-hour grace period for a system failure that lasted 24 hours or longer, during which neither late payment fees nor interest should be incurred for any payment due during the time of the system failure. Affected City agencies would also have the discretion to extend the grace period by up to seven days.
“When our city’s infrastructure fails us, we owe it to the public to make sure they are not further penalized due to an oversight that is out of their control.,” said Council Member Peter Koo. “Providing a grace period for New Yorkers when our online payment system goes offline is more than just a common courtesy, it’s the right thing to do.”
This bill would take effect 120 days after it becomes law.