Summary of the 2013 Legislative Session

The regular 2013 Legislative Session concluded at the end of June.  NYSPA had several important successes along with more work ahead on several priority issues.

Legislation Supported

SAFE Act – Although there were no changes made to the mental health reporting provisions of the SAFE Act, NYSPA’s continued advocacy has laid the ground work for future action.

In the Senate, legislation (S.5905) was introduced just days before the end of the session, which incorporates nearly all of NYSPA's proposed changes, including the "serious and imminent" reporting standard as well as authorization of notification to endangered individuals and law enforcement. In the Assembly, similar legislation (A.6233-A) has been introduced.  NYSPA will continue to advocate for the passage of this bill and build upon the legislative support it has established thus far.

Out-of-Network Insurance Reform – NYSPA Senator Hannon’s comprehensive out-of-network reform bill (S.2551/A.7253), supported by NYSPA, MSSNY and many of the medical specialty societies, passed the Senate overwhelmingly, but was not taken up in the Assembly. Other bills on this issue (A.5216; A.7813) died in Assembly Insurance Committee.

Legislation Opposed

Autism DSM Legislation  – NYSPA opposed legislation seeking to codify the DSM IV definition and diagnostic criteria for autism in the State’s Mental Hygiene Law.   The Assembly bill (A.1663-A) passed, but the Senate version did not move off the calendar.  In addition, the Senate passed two separate bills (S.5801 and S.5802), one that would have provided a definition for autism without codifying the DSM IV diagnostic criteria and another that would have established a DSM-5 Implementation Council. However, the Assembly did not take up the two Senate bills and as a result, no bill on this issue passed both Houses.

Nurse Practitioner Admitting Bill –  NYSPA opposed legislation (S.3280; A.4886) seeking to equate nurse practitioners with physicians under Article 9 of the Mental Hygiene Law for the purposes of voluntary or involuntary admission of mentally ill patients to an OMH licensed or operated psychiatric hospital.  The bill was defeated in the Senate. This bill and an amended version (S.3280-A/A.4886-A) authorizing nurse practitioners to only admit voluntary patients were in fact pulled from the Senate floor when they came up for a vote twice in the final weeks of the Session due to opposition of the bill. In the Assembly, the Higher Education Committee did not take up the bill.

Nurse Practitioner Independent Practice Bill –  NYSPA opposed bills (S.2309; S.4611-A/A.4846-A)  seeking to eliminate the requirement that nurse practitioners enter into a written practice agreement with a collaborating physician of the same specialty died in the Higher Education Committees of the both the Assembly and Senate.

Corporate Practice Bills –

(1) NYSPA opposed legislation (S.4069/A.5124) authorizing establishment of retail clinics.  This bill died on the Senate calendar and in the Assembly Health Committee.

(2) NYSPA opposed legislation (S.3481/A.801) authorizing psychologists to go into business with non-psychiatrist physicians.  The Senate bill was pulled from the agenda of the Senate Corporations, Authorities and Commissions Committee early in the Session and not taken up again. In the Assembly, the bill died in the Assembly Higher Education Committee.

(3) NYSPA opposed legislation (A.3910) authorizing licensed clinical social workers and mental health practitioners to go into business with each other.  The Assembly bill died in the Assembly Higher Education Committee.  To date, no Senate companion bill has been introduced.

Mental Health Practitioners’ Scope of Practice –  NYSPA oppposed legislation (A.3652/S.2900; A.7608/S.4977) that would have expanded the scopes of practice of mental health practitioners, including licensed mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, creative arts therapists, and psychoanalysts, to include diagnosis of mental illness.  These bills died in the Higher Education Committees of the Assembly and Senate.

Evaluation of Defendant’s Fitness to Stand Trial – NYSPA opposed legislation (A.6563) authorizing licensed clinical social workers and psychiatric nurse practitioners to assess a defendant’s fitness to stand trial.  The Assembly bill died in the Assembly Codes Committee. To date, no Senate companion bill has been introduced.

Regressive Medical Liability Bills –  NYSPA opposed a host of bills that would have increased medical liability premiums for physicians anywhere from 5% to 53% percent.  The bills died in Committee in both Houses, except for one that would have extended the date of discovery statute of limitations, which died on the Assembly calendar.

Other Scope of Practice Bills – NYSPA opposed a bill establishing a scope of practice for naturopaths (S.4828-A/A.7860).  This bill passed the Senate but died in the Assembly Higher Education Committee.

For those who are interested in statistics, between January 1, 2013 and June 25, 2013, there were 13,993 bills introduced, of which 1,071 passed the Assembly and 1,408 passed the Senate. Six hundred and fifty of the bills, or 4.6 percent, passed both Houses with 68 thus far having been signed into law, 3 vetoed, 22 in the Governor’s office awaiting action, and five hundred and fifty-nine having passed but not yet been delivered to the Governor’s office.

Finally, we want to thank the Executive Committee, the Chair of the Committee on Legislation, Legislative Representatives and NYSPA members who assisted us in our efforts in numerous ways, including writing, calling or emailing their legislators on pending pieces of legislation. Your voice is critical and made a difference. We also extend our appreciation to our partners in Albany who we worked with on many of the above issues, including MSSNY and many of the medical specialty societies.

Richard Gallo
Gallo Associates
123 State Street
Albany,New York 12207
Phone (518) 465-3545
Fax: (518) 465-3584
Email: [email protected]