Senator Anna Kaplan Helps Pass Legislation to Address Disparities In Healthcare for Minorities

(Carle Place, NY) Senator Anna M. Kaplan (D-Great Neck) helped pass legislation today to close the racial disparities gap in healthcare, building on the Senate Majority Conference’s continued work to protect the healthcare rights of all New Yorkers. This package will enact cultural education training for medical professionals, establish programs to recognize healthcare disparities, examine environmental effects of urban settings on public health, review changes in hospital services, and encourage equity in the addiction treatment services. These bills will also enact an evaluation of ethnic disparities in infant mortality and breastfeeding to enhance the quality of healthcare services in New York and provide the necessary protections, and support these underserved communities’ needs.

Senator Anna M. Kaplan said, “The COVID pandemic has exposed and exacerbated many of the inequities that minority New Yorkers face every day, particularly around disparities in healthcare. The bills being passed by the Senate Majority today will begin to address these disparities and work towards more equitable access to healthcare services for all New Yorkers.”

“The Senate Democratic Majority is working aggressively to end the significant healthcare disparities in communities of color. This is only the start of addressing the systemic inequalities in the medical field,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “We will continue to break down the barriers in the healthcare sector that have led to severe implicit biases affecting diagnosis and care. Regardless of zip code, physical ability, gender, or race, everyone deserves equal access to quality treatment within the healthcare system. This legislation will not only alleviate the discriminatory obstacles minority New Yorkers face today, but it will also benefit the health and livelihood of our entire state.”

The legislation passed by the Senate Majority, include:

  • Cultural Education for Medical Professionals: This bill S.1352 Sponsored by Senator Jose M. Serrano will require healthcare professionals to complete Continuing Medical Education courses in cultural awareness and competence training.
  • Collaboration Programs to Address Healthcare Disparities: This bill S.1374 sponsored by Senator James Sanders Jr. will authorize programs to work with hospitals, home care agencies and physicians to target health disparities thus improving health outcomes for under-served persons and reducing health care costs within the State.
  • Interagency Taskforce on Health Literacy: This bill S.1407 sponsored by Senator Parker will establish an interagency task force on health literacy to develop recommendations to improve access to available health services, identify barriers that prevent residents from being able to access available health services, and identify and educate groups at risk for low health literacy.
  • Health Equity Assessment For Certificate of Need Applications: This bill S.1451 sponsored by Senator Gustavo Rivera, will require a health equity assessment to be filed with an application for construction or change to a hospital or health related service, allowing consideration on how the project will impact medically underserved groups.
  • Minority Coordinating Council on Asthmatic Affairs: This bill S.410A sponsored by Senator Alessandra Biaggi, establishes a minority coordinating council of asthmatic affairs to assess the asthma risk factors for minority citizens in NY, identify existing barriers to quality asthma treatment and care among minorities, develop action steps for addressing care issues, and launch a state-wide asthma awareness campaign.
    • Written in response to the death of Lydia Soto, a child from the South Bronx who passed away due to complications with asthma.
  •  Study of Asthma in Cities: This bill S.646A sponsored by Senator James Sanders Jr., directs the New York State Department of Health to conduct a study on the incidences of asthma in cities having a population of more than ninety thousand.
  • Addiction Treatment Equity: This bill S.679A sponsored by Senator Pete Harckham, establishes the Council for Treatment Equity within the Office of Addiction Services and Supports to address substance use disorder treatment disparities among vulnerable populations across the state
  • Study of Ethnic Disparities in Infant Mortality: This bill S.879 sponsored by Senator Brian Benjamin requires the Department of Health of the state of New York to conduct a study of the effects of racial and ethnic disparities on infant mortality and prepare and submit a report.
  • Study of Ethnic Disparities in Breastfeeding: This bill S.1296 sponsored by Senator Brian Benjamin requires the Department of Health of the state of New York to conduct a review of the effects of racial and ethnic disparities on breastfeeding rates and prepare and submit a report.

New York ranks 30th out of 50 states in its maternal death rates, an issue that has amplified the racial and ethnic health disparities in the state. The number of reported maternal mortalities in New York increased over time from 15.4 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2001-2003 to 19.6 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2014-2016. The United States rate more than doubled during this time. The number for maternal mortality for women of color, especially for Black women, is even higher.  In 2019, the Senate Democratic Majority enacted the Maternal Mortality Review Board to hear from those directly impacted and make recommendations to address and create new strategies to combat this crisis head-on.

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