Governor Kathy Hochul today signed legislation S.7628 / A.8536 that adds an additional appointed member to the Public Health and Health Planning Council as a representative of women’s health service providers. This ensures that public health decisions involving women’s health or facilities specializing in the care of women will be advised by those with appropriate expertise.
“As the fundamental right to abortion is in jeopardy at the Supreme Court, it is more important than ever before that we take steps here in New York to ensure equitable access to women’s reproductive health,” Governor Hochul said. “We have seen the impact of powerful institutions lacking the expertise and empathy necessary to set policy around women’s health, and it has led to massive health disparities in our public health system along gender and racial lines. This will be an important step forward to improve the health of women in New York, bringing more attention to the difficulties and unique health care issues that women face every day, and by adding someone with experience in this crucial and undervalued field to the Public Health and Health Planning Council, we will bring better health equity to all New Yorkers. ”
Many of the members of the PHHPC are experts in various public health fields, such as nursing homes, behavioral health, and insurance companies, but currently no members of the PHHPC are required to have expertise in women’s health. Because this council is responsible for amending the Sanitary Code, issuing recommendations to the Commissioner of Health, and reviewing applications for health care facilities, appointing an additional member with this expertise will provide important input to public health decisions conducted by the PHHPC. The law takes effect immediately.
The bill signing is one of a series of measures the Governor has taken to protect and strengthen access to reproductive healthcare in New York. The Enacted Budget codified a requirement that all insurance plans cover abortion services and expanded the Family Planning Grant program, which supports community reproductive health providers across the state. The budget also included crucial measures to reduce racial disparities in maternal mortality and morbidity, including an expansion of postpartum Medicaid coverage from 60 days to one-year postpartum for all individuals regardless of immigration status and improved access to prenatal and postpartum services, including expanded nutrition services, services by Licensed Clinical Social Workers, peer counseling, and patient navigation services. The Governor reaffirmed her commitment to protecting and strengthening reproductive healthcare in response to a leaked Supreme Court opinion that would overturn the right to abortion guaranteed by Roe v. Wade
State Senator Julia Salazar said, “The Public Health and Health Planning Council is pivotal in many decisions that the State makes for matters concerning health and well-being for women, but without proper guidance it can continue many difficulties faced by women every day. I thank Governor Hochul for signing this bill in order to give women’s health a greater role in the decision-making of health in New York. ”
Assemblymember Richard N. Gottfried said, “Public Health and Health Planning Council’s decisions drive public health policy. Its membership should represent the needs of all New Yorkers. Adding representation for women’s health service providers to the Public Health and Health Planning Council will ensure that maternal health, reproductive care, and other critical services are better protected. ”