Saturday, January 4, 2020

Attorney General James Seeks Supreme Court Review Of ACA Case

 New York Attorney General Letitia James and a coalition — which includes 19 additional states and the District of Columbia — filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Texas v. U.S. The decision affirmed a lower court’s ruling that the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is unconstitutional, yet refused to rule on the validity of the rest of the ACA — calling into question whether the remaining provisions of the statute could still stand, including those that protect and provide coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions. Because this decision causes uncertainty that may harm the health of millions of Americans — in addition to doctors, clinics, patients, and the healthcare market — Attorney General James and the coalition are petitioning the Supreme Court to take up the case and resolve it before the end of the court’s current term in June. 
“The Affordable Care Act has been the law of the land for a decade now and despite efforts by President Trump, his Administration, and Congressional Republicans to take us backwards, we will not strip health coverage away from millions of Americans,” said Attorney General James. “Our coalition will continue to fight any effort to kick children off their parents’ health care plans, to rip health coverage away from those with pre-existing conditions, to charge women more for no other reason than being a woman, or to deprive millions of Americans access to quality, affordable health care. In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled the ACA was legal, so we will not allow President Trump and his Republican allies to dismantle the ACA, piece-by-piece, after failing to get Congress to do its dirty work.”
The lawsuit — originally filed by a Texas-led coalition and supported by the Trump Administration — argued that Congress rendered the ACA’s individual mandate unconstitutional when it reduced the penalty for noncompliance with the law to $0. The plaintiffs further argued that the rest of the ACA should be held invalid as a result of that change. A coalition of attorneys general — that included New York — defended the ACA in its entirety, supported by a bipartisan group of amici, including scholars, economists, public health experts, hospital and provider associations, patient groups, counties, cities, and more. The Fifth Circuit held the individual mandate to be unconstitutional, but declined to further rule on the validity of the ACA’s remaining provisions. The court instead sent the case back to the Northern District of Texas to determine which provisions of President Obama’s signature health care law are still valid.
This petition makes clear that states, patients, doctors, hospitals, employers, pharmaceutical companies, and more will be impacted by the looming uncertainty caused by the Fifth Circuit’s decision. It asks the Supreme Court to review the case this term. The petition also highlights the important advancements in health care access made under the ACA, including:
  • More than 12 million Americans now receive health coverage through the ACA’s Medicaid expansion;
  • Nearly nine million individuals nationwide receive tax credits to help subsidize their health insurance coverage through individual marketplaces;
  • Millions of working families rely on high-quality employer-sponsored health insurance plans;
  • Important protections prohibit insurers from denying health insurance to the 133 million Americans with pre-existing conditions, like diabetes, cancer, or pregnancy, or from charging individuals higher premiums because of their health status; and
  • Nearly $1.3 trillion in federal funding has been dedicated to keeping Americans healthy and covered, which includes spending through Medicaid expansion and public health dollars.
Filing the petition with Attorney General James are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota (by and through its Department of Commerce), Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia, as well as the governor of Kentucky.

New York State Assemblyman Michael Blake Statement on Iranian General Suleimani

No American or anyone seeking peace and justice is upset by the killing of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard General Qassim Suleimani.  However, the safety and security of Americans around the world are now in danger because President Trump's ordered strike clearly did not take into account the inevitable consequences of escalation and retaliation that will ensue moving forward.

Let me be clear: General Suleimani was ruthless and his reprehensible actions killed countless people, but, Bronxites and the American people do not want war with Iran. Period.  This action will very likely be seen as an act of war by Iran.  Indeed, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has already promised “harsh retaliation” and “severe revenge” in response to the U.S.’s action.

As a member of the New York Assembly Veterans Committee, the youngest brother of an Iraq U.S. Army veteran, and now as a U.S. congressional candidate, it is appalling to learn from public statements that congressional leaders were not briefed on a decision of this magnitude.   It is another example of the Trump Administration's actions destabilizing the world, deceiving Americans, endangering lives, and impairing our foreign relations.  Congressional leaders must remain vigilant to demand answers and information as the Trump Administration's actions accelerate a wider conflict with Iran, since the unfortunate possibility exists that this irresponsible decision was made for political and/or personal gain.  The Trump Administration must immediately answer to its co-equal branches of government and be held accountable.  Leadership matters and decisions have consequences.  

We cannot ignore that top military and policy advisers warned the Trump Administration against the U.S. withdrawing from the Iran Nuclear Agreement as it would lead to instability throughout the region and the world.  Yet, President Trump did not heed their warnings.  Instead, he acted thoughtlessly and recklessly and thus has potentially endangered the lives of millions.  It is also not lost on me that the U.S.’s previous military intervention in Iraq destabilized the region and sparked the creation of new Shiite alliances which in turn helped Soleimani gain unchecked loyalty and power in the region.  Therefore, this attack is not just about how Iran will respond, but, one must wonder how Shiites may retaliate given their allegiance to Soleimani.

The 5,000 Americans currently stationed in Iraq, the nearly 375,000 veterans residing in and around the Bronx, and all Americans deserve transparency about what happened in Iraq and Iran to provoke such an action on January 2nd.  It is also imperative that the Department of State update its travel security alerts to protect American students and residents abroad.

The American people have said it before, and, we will say it again: we do not more war - not with Iran, not with anyone.  President Trump must understand that his decision may give rise to a new wave of unforeseen consequences that will impact us all for generations to come.  Once again, it matters whom we send to Washington. 

Michael Blake


15th Congressional Candidate Michael Blake, why did you ask me who told me about the deal you made (which you said only two people knew about) to have City Councilman Ritchie Torres not run in the February 2019 Public Advocate Special Election, support you for the position, and you would then support Councilman Torres in his bid for the 15th Congressional district? 

When I asked Councilman Ritchie Torres about not running in the Special Election for Public Advocate, at first he said he was never interested in the position, but after I told him that you said only two people knew about the deal, Councilman Torres would only speak off the record very angry for almost twenty minutes. 

So let's be honest Assemblyman Blake, do you even know where Iranian General Suleimani was killed, what city and what country, and why it had to be done after a U.S. embassy was attacked in Iraq where General Suleimani was.

"What's Happening in New York?" - New Laws Taking Effect in January 2020

New Laws Taking Effect in January 2020
(Effective Date / Chapter Number / Bill Number)

1/1/2020 / Ch. 413 of 2018 /A.10648 & S.8522-A
Removes the three-year exemption of mandatory continuing education for newly licensed Certified Public Accountants and public accountants.
1/1/2020 / Ch. 2 of 2019 / A.774 & S.1100
Allows 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 25 of 2019 / A.585-A & S.659-A
Enacts the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act to require health insurance policies to cover all FDA-approved contraceptive drugs, devices and products, as well as voluntary sterilization procedures, contraceptive education and counseling, and related follow-up services. Prohibits cost-sharing requirements or other restrictions or delays.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 55 of 2019 Part CC / A.2005-C & S.1505-C
Expands the types of medical professionals authorized to provide medical care and treatment to injured workers under the workers’ compensation system and expands the Workers’ Compensation Board’s authority to resolve medical bill disputes.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 55 of 2019 Part BBB, Sec. 2 / A.2005-C & S.1505-C
Provides for uniform polling hours of 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. during primary elections.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 56 of 2019 Part K / A.2006-C & S.1506-C
Ends detention of Persons in Need of Supervision (PINS) and allows for limited pre-dispositional placement of PINS in foster care rather than detention facilities. Narrows the ability of family courts to order foster care placements at disposition of PINS cases with a limited post-placement timeframe. Adds Family Support Centers as a reimbursable option for preventive services for local social services districts.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 57 of 2019 Part G, Sec. 3,4,5,7,8 / A.2007-C & S.1507-C
Requires fiscal intermediaries for the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program to contract with the Department of Health through a procurement process.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 57 of 2019 Part J, Subpart B, Sec. 42 / A.2007-C & S.1507-C
Codifies provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act, including the 10 categories of essential health benefits that health insurance plans must cover.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 57 of 2019 Part J, Subpart C, Sec. 3 / A.2007-C & S.1507-C
Requires health insurance companies to publish a complete list of all covered prescription drugs on their formulary drug list.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 57 of 2019 Part J, Subpart D, Sec. 4 / A.2007-C & S.1507-C
Prohibits health insurance companies from engaging in discrimination based on sex or gender identity.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 57 of 2019 Part L, Sec. 4 / A.2007-C & S.1507-C
Requires health insurance plans to cover fertility preservation treatments for those with iatrogenic infertility caused by radiation, medication or surgery. Also requires large-group insurers to cover three cycles of in-vitro fertilization.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 57 of 2019 Part M, Sec.4 / A.2007-C & S.1507-C
Requires health insurance policies to cover reproductive health coverage, including voluntary sterilization procedures and over-the-counter contraceptive products.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 57 of 2019 Part J, Subpart A, Sec. 11, Subsec. 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9 / A.2007-C & S.1507-C
Codifies provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act that prohibit insurers from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 59 of 2019 Part J, Subpart F, Sec. 2 / A.2009-C & S.1509-C
Requires power plants to file an annual report showing the inventory, revenue and expenses for the year.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 59 of 2019 Part L, Sec. 6 / A.2009-C & S.1509-C
Allows businesses to receive a tax credit for providing child care facilities for employees.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 59 of 2019 Part W, Sec. 6 / A.2009-C & S.1509-C
Allows businesses to receive a tax credit for hiring eligible individuals who are in recovery from a substance use disorder.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 59 of 2019 Part III, Sec. 20, Subsec. 13 & 19 / A.2009-C & S.1509-C
Establishes a combined single limit of $1.5 million liability bond or insurance coverage on motor vehicles carrying passengers for compensation which have a seating capacity of 8 or more passengers.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 59 of 2019 Part JJJ, Sec. 25 / A.2009-C & S.1509-C
Eliminates cash bail for misdemeanors, excluding sex offense misdemeanors, and non-violent felonies, allowing individuals to be released on their own recognizance or under non-monetary conditions.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 59 of 2019 Part KKK, Sec. 2 / A.2009-C & S.1509-C
Enacts new judicial requirements that ensure defendants have access to a speedy trial.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 59 of 2019 Part LLL, Sec. 14 / A.2009-C & S.1509-C
Reforms discovery procedures to expedite disclosure of information and documents in criminal cases.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 66 of 2019 / A.7606 & S.5839
Removes the requirement that primary ballots be color coded by political party.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 105 of 2019 / A.8419 & S.6578
Enacts the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act, which provides farm workers with the following protections: collective bargaining rights, a day of rest, overtime pay, unemployment benefits, disability insurance, sanitary housing, and additional workers' compensation benefits.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 106 of 2019 / A.8429 & S.6599
Establishes the New York State Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act to combat climate change by: reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2050, requiring that 70% of electricity be produced by renewable energy systems by 2030 and requiring 100% of the state’s electricity to be produced without emissions by 2040.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 147 of 2019 / A.4853-A & S.5685
Enacts Brianna’s Law, requiring all operators of mechanically propelled vessels to take a boating safety course. Starting in 2020, the law applies to those born in 1993 or later then will be phased in on an annual basis to include all operators by 2025.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 185 of 2019 / A.3002 & S.88
Requires Industrial Development Agencies to live stream open meetings and public hearings and post the content on their websites for at least five years.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 253 of 2019 / A.7892 & S.6313
Extends the period to file the application for accidental death benefits to five years for members of the New York State and Local Retirement System.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 266 of 2019 / A.4481 & S.4423
Allows taxpayers to check off a box on tax returns to make contributions for leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma research, education and treatment.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 298 of 2019 / A.2998 & S.1799
Allows a health care provider to diagnose or prescribe drugs for sexually transmitted infections to a sexual partner or partners without performing an examination.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 361 of 2019 / A.3619-A & S.1481-A
Requires that all employees of programs and organizations providing care to runaway or homeless youth complete training in issues pertaining to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 408 of 2019 / A.7789 & S.5329-A
Clarifies the inclusion of property damage coverage in the combined single limit of $1.5 million coverage for bodily injury and death which is required for motor vehicles carrying passengers for compensation which have a seating capacity of 8 or more passengers.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 417 of 2019 / A.1454 & S.3146
Allows a board of elections to design an alternative poll site staffing plan to conduct an election.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 454 of 2019 / A.4668 & S.4910
Requires a "paid for by" disclosure statement for all political communications including printed, digital, visual and auditory communications.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 465 of 2019 / A.1740 & S.3134
Allows filings with a local board of elections to meet state filing requirements in order to eliminate duplicative filings.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 643 of 2019 / A.8336-A & S.5886-A
Establishes an electronic open auction public bond sale pilot program so municipalities can conduct open auction public bond sales through nationally recognized securities bidding services.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 668 of 2019 / A.2345 & S.3387
Authorizes Medicaid coverage for lactation counseling services without a referral from a physician, registered physician assistant, registered nurse practitioner or licensed midwife.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 683 of 2019 / A.6683-B & S.5864-A
Creates a tax credit for the hiring of women and minority television writers and directors by companies participating in New York's film tax credit program.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 691 of 2019 / A.3009 & S.4078
Provides for the synchronization of multiple prescriptions in order to allow patients to pick up medications for chronic illness on the same date each month.

1/1/2020 / Ch.701 of 2019 / A.8035 & S.6469
Provides that the employer which pays an individual must make unemployment insurance contributions even if the work is performed for a different entity.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 704 of 2019 / A.4403 & S.1864
Allows municipalities to reduce the tax redemption period of vacant and abandoned properties from two years to one year and expedites the foreclosure process.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 733 of 2019 / A.2850-A & S.3962-A
Requires hospitals to establish domestic violence training policies and coordinate services for survivors.

1/1/2020 / Ch. 735 of 2019 / A.1564 & S.2385
Creates a permanent environmental justice advisory group and interagency coordinating council to develop equitable environmental policies.

1/2/2020 / Ch. 340 of 2019 / A.4315 & S.55
Requires the State Liquor Authority to make available to the public information pertaining to any conditions it imposes on a licensed premises.

1/2/2020 / Ch. 479 of 2019 / A.7289 & S.1681
Extends the property tax exemption for disabled veterans to current members of the armed forces who are disabled and remain in active service.

1/5/2020 / Ch. 359 of 2019 / A.7584 & S.6347
Clarifies that petty offense charges are eligible and should be sealed.

1/6/2020 / Ch. 94 of 2019 / A.5308-B & S.6549
Prohibits employers from asking an applicant’s wage or salary history as a requirement for job interviews, applications, promotions or job offers.

1/7/2020 / Ch. 455 of 2019 / A.5175 & S.6499
Provides for the establishment of a procedure and electronic system to process Mitchell-Lama housing applications and waiting lists.

1/7/2020 / Ch. 556 of 2019 Sec. 2 / A.6678 & S.4413
Requires employers that provide employee handbooks to include notice of rights regarding reproductive health decision making by the employee or a dependent.

1/10/2020 / Ch. 481 of 2019 / A.8095-A & S.6467
Directs the Division of Veterans' Services to maintain a discharge upgrade advisory board to provide written non-binding advisory opinions to veterans who are appealing their character of discharge.

1/10/2020 / Ch. 482 of 2019 / A.8096 & S.6527
Requires local veterans' service agencies to assist veterans in the process of submitting an application for a discharge upgrade to the discharge upgrade advisory board.

1/11/2020 / Ch. 96 of 2019 / A.8414 & S.6575
Expands and extends the Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises program to promote employment and business opportunities in state contracts.

1/11/2020 / Ch. 264 of 2019 / A.3235 & S.3223
Requires Community Reinvestment Act reporting to include bank lending to Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises.

1/11/2020 / Ch. 633 of 2019 / A.1024-B & S.3247-B
Authorizes firefighters and law enforcement officers outside of New York City to possess and administer epinephrine.

1/12/2020 / Ch. 646 of 2019 / A.1084 & S.874
Ensures that residents of adult care facilities have a right to be informed about their condition, treatment and medications, as well as the right to consent or refuse care and be able to choose their own providers.

1/15/2020 / Ch. 491 of 2019 / A.5494 & S.3419
Establishes the right of adoptees to receive a certified copy of their birth certificate at the age of 18.

1/15/2020 / Ch. 655 of 2019 / A.1971 & S.5427
Increases the amount of barrels that a brew pub may produce to sell at retail or wholesale from 250 to 2,000 and requires a wholesaler to be used for distribution.

1/19/2020 / Ch. 504 of 2019 / A.7277 & S.6361
Requires the informational materials which accompany opioid antagonists for first aid or emergency treatment to include Good Samaritan liability protections.

1/24/2020 / Ch. 558 of 2019 / A.456-A & S.4956-A
Requires cooperatives to notify residents of changes in their by-laws within 10 days of adoption.

1/26/2020 / Ch.134 of 2019 / A.763-A & S.1414-A
Criminalizes the manufacture, sale, transport and possession of firearms, rifles, shotguns and the major components of such weapons which are undetectable by an X-ray machine or metal detector.

1/27/2020 / Ch.139 of 2019 / A.2685 & S.2449
Establishes the municipal gun buyback program by the Division of State Police to allow for the voluntary return of guns.

This was taken from Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz's Legislative Summary December 23 - January 4, 2019.