Tuesday, July 27, 2010

New Directions

Hello to all! I am the new director of the NPA New York Local Action Network. Now that healthcare reform has become law, we have many exciting new directions in which to go. We will mostly be focusing on local and state-wide projects and plan to continue to work with our community partners to improve the health of all New Yorkers. Some legislation currently on the horizon that we support:

Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax - Obesity is a challenging problem for all of New York, especially among the poor. In the future, obesity and the diseases that come with it, including diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease will take up more and more of our health care dollars. Heavily sweetened beverages are a large source of calories that can lead to obesity, and by taxing them at a higher rate than other beverages we hope to discourage their consumption and also to raise much-needed revenue for obesity prevention programs. There are many competing interests against such a tax and it appeared to be off the table until recently, when Governor Paterson announced he would consider it again.

Midwifery Modernization Act - Maternity care in New York has become increasingly medicalized and C-section rates are skyrocketing, without any improvement in the health of women or babies. Midwives who specialize in home births offer a safe alternative for women who want to deliver in the comfort of their own home. Home births are safe when women are at low risk of complications and when attended by a qualified midwife. Current regulations require that midwives attending home births have a "written practice agreement" with an obstetrician. Unfortunately, this regulation does not improve the safety of women giving birth and serves only to limit their choices of where and how to deliver their babies because few obstetricians are willing to sign this agreement. We as physicians know that midwives are highly trained professionals who work in collaboration with other providers; a formal written practice agreement should not be required. All women should have the option of a home birth attended by a midwife. This legislation is currently on the Governor's desk awaiting his signature.

The New York City Paid Sick Time Act - Currently many workers have no paid sick days at their jobs. As a result, they risk losing valuable income if they don't go to work either to care for themselves or their children. This puts all of us at risk of contracting infectious diseases. Similar initiatives in other cities such as San Francisco have had minimal impact on business productivity.

Reproductive Health Act - Around the country, access to abortion services is under threat. The Reproductive Health Act seeks to change arcane state laws about abortion services and to regulate abortion under the same code as with all other legal medical procedures. It will also ensure that even if national laws about abortion change, New York will continue to offer abortion services up to 24 weeks, which is consistent with the landmark Supreme Court case (Roe v Wade) that legalized abortion throughout the country nearly 40 years ago. This law will allow women to consult with their doctors in privacy to make the best decisions for themselves. The legislature declined to move on this legislation in this past session.

Looking forward to working with you this year!


Sharon Phillips