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American Atheists Praises NY Legislation to Ensure Hospital Transparency

Albany, NY–Today, the civil rights organization American Atheists praised New York Assemblywoman Nily Rozic and Senator Michelle Hinchey for announcing legislation that will improve healthcare and save lives.

This important bill ensures that New Yorkers have access to vital information about whether the hospital in their area provides the care they need prior to admission. The legislation will direct the NY Department of Health to collect a list of policy-based exclusions from each general hospital and to publish a list of the hospitals that have such exclusions, and the specific policy-based exclusions for each, on its website.

American Atheists joins New York Civil Liberties Union, the National Institute of Reproductive Health (NIRH), Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts, and Schenectady Coalition for Healthcare Access in supporting this legislation. By partnering with organizations and lawmakers, American Atheists has worked to introduce similar legislation in other states.

“The current pandemic has laid bare how crucial hospital care is and how little we know about what care each hospital provides,” said Assemblywoman Rozic. “No patient should be denied the care they need simply because they had no way to know that their local hospital excluded certain procedures. This legislation will go a long way to ensure New Yorkers have access to the data they deserve in order to make informed decisions about their health care needs.”

Senator Michelle Hinchey said, “It’s well past time to strengthen information transparency in our healthcare system. All New Yorkers have the right to know what medical services are available at their local hospital. This is especially important now as we are seeing a wave of hospital consolidations and, therefore, the loss of services in communities across the state. Our legislation will ensure that New Yorkers have access to the information they need to make the most informed health decisions possible for themselves and their families. At the same time, this bill will allow us to identify key service gaps that are leaving entire regions of our state without access to proper types of care. This is a critical step towards greater health equity for all New Yorkers.”

“When New Yorkers are in the middle of a medical emergency, they need to know that their hospital will treat them, not turn them away for discriminatory reasons. Thankfully, Assemblymember Rozic and Senator Hinchey have introduced important legislation to fix this life-threatening problem,” said Alison Gill, Vice President for Legal and Policy at American Atheists. “No one should find out that a hospital will deny them care until it’s too late.”

Read additional quotes here.

Since 2003, over 40 community hospitals in New York have closed. Currently, large health care systems now control more than 70 percent of acute hospital beds, and hospital mergers in New York continue apace. Unfortunately, these large hospital systems sometimes remove categories of care from local hospitals, leaving patients in regions of the state without access to particular types of care, including some types of emergency care.

Too often, patients do not have the ability to determine whether the hospital, or hospitals, in their area provides the care they seek, because information about how hospitals’ restrictions impact options for care is too difficult to obtain. Worse still, denials of care can lead to serious adverse health impacts that jeopardize individuals’ lives and wellbeing. And, some denials of care violate state and federal law.

This legislation will help identify whether and where there are health care deserts in the state, where particular types of care are unavailable, and how such gaps impact communities and individuals statewide.

The bill also gives prospective patients the tools they need to determine whether the hospital, or hospitals, in their area provides the care they seek prior to admission. Access to this information permits patients to make informed, life-saving decisions about where to seek the health care they need.