Weekly Update March 11th, 2017 – March 18th, 2017

March 10, 2017
Legislative Update:

Working Together across Party Lines on Tough Issues like High-Priced Drugs

Tired of gridlock, many people are hoping for some bipartisan action on complex health care issues, like high-priced drugs. I believe that is possible.

As the only practicing health care professional in either house of the New York State Legislature, I bring a unique perspective to the subject of high-priced drugs. As a practicing pharmacist I have seen firsthand the positive impacts of new medications. The dizzying and at times unexplainable price increases from some select manufacturers have left many patients without access to prescription drugs. My staff and I have worked with many of these people closely to help them find a way to afford their medications.

Now, as a legislator, I take a wider view. I see access to prescription medication in terms of improving population health – ensuring high quality health care at a reasonable cost for the people in the 108th Assembly District, where I serve, but also the residents of New York State as a whole.

Most people know that Americans pay more for prescription drugs than patients in other countries—and have a difficult time paying for these drugs. The high cost also takes a toll on state budgets and the business community. I and many other legislators want to find better ways to ensure that Americans get the medications they need—without individuals, employers, local or state governments going broke in the process.

New York is not the only state facing the thorny issue of how to handle high-cost drugs. Drug price increases have had a huge impact on the budgets of all states and their Medicaid programs. Manufacturers set drug prices—and Medicaid prescription drug prices and coverage are determined largely by federal policy and legislation. The fastest growing part of health care spending in the US is prescription drugs. State Medicaid programs cope with the cost increase as they manage their budgets. Nationally, the Medicaid program spent an estimated $538.4 billion for all services in 2015 (Kaiser, 2015b). An estimated $16.9 billion was spent on just 64 high-cost drugs, which accounted for 3.1% of total national Medicaid spending for all services. (Smart-D report)

To continue reading my full article visit my blog site here.

District News:

Read Across America Day

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Thank you to the 4th grade class at School 16 in Troy for your attention and questions on Read Across America Day. Let's keep reading!

Historic Tax Credits

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Glad to join with NYS Parks and Troy Mayor Patrick Madden to celebrate the $3 Billion in investment due to the NYS Historic Tax Credit, of which over $2 billion was upstate New York. NYS is a leader in the tax credit which is breathing new life into our rich historic structures.

For communities such as Cohoes, Watervliet, Troy, Rensselaer, Albany and beyond this is a critical tool to revitalize our communities, prevent blight and expand our tax base.

As a state legislator, this was one of the first bills I passed in the budget and glad to continue to do so!

Peebles Island State Park Volunteer and Friend Group Meeting

The Peebles Island State Park Volunteer and Friend group start up meeting will take place on March 16th at the Visitor’s Center located at 1 Delaware Ave. Waterford, NY 12188.

At the meeting they will be discussing volunteer opportunities and the formation of a Friends Group for the Park. They will be exploring ideas for how to support Park activities on the Island as well as volunteer opportunities for the quickly approaching summer season.

Please RSVP by March 12th to Dave DeMarco if you plan to attend or would like to participate but cannot attend on March 16th. He can be reached at David.M.DeMarco@gmail.com or 518-852-5647.

Capital District YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program

The Capital District YMCA in partnership with the Albany County Department of Health and Mt. Calvary Baptist Church is offering a free Diabetes Prevention Program open to all.

According to the American Diabetes Association, African Americans are 1.7 and Hispanic/Latinos are 1.5 times more likely to develop diabetes than Non-Hispanic Whites. Participation in this program can reduce your risk.

For more information on this program check out this flyer or visit www.CDYMCA.org.

In the News:

Check out this Capital Tonight interview that talks about legislation we have recently introduced to address the Council's Workers’ comp concerns.

Thanks to Nick Buonanno of The Record for the opportunity to comment on our annual survey. Check out the article here.