Our State Partners in New York
The National Institute for Reproductive Health Action Fund, which previously operated as NARAL Pro-Choice New York, conducts intensive state advocacy and political work in New York. Early organizational successes in New York included launching the Residency Training Initiative, which resulted in improved abortion training programs at hospitals in New York City and went on to be replicated in other communities.
Since then we have worked to institute effective legislative and education campaigns in New York City and New York state.
Statewide legislative work:
Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act
We have worked to advance the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act (CCCA) in New York. This groundbreaking bill would fulfill a central promise of the ACA by requiring state-governed health insurance policies to cover all Food and Drug Administration-approved methods of birth control, including emergency contraception. It would also prohibit a health insurance policy from imposing any restriction or delays related to this coverage and will cover men’s contraceptive methods. Finally, the bill would go further than the ACA, allowing patients to obtain a year’s worth of a contraceptive at a time.
Women’s Equality Act
In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo created the Women’s Equality Act in 2013, a 10-point omnibus bill including policies relating to equal pay, sexual harassment, treatment of pregnant women in the workplace, intimate partner violence, and abortion rights. We were heavily involved in the effort to pass the Women’s Equality Act.
Between 2013 and 2015, the New York State Assembly twice passed the full 10-point Women’s Equality Act, as well as a standalone bill enshrining the protections of Roe v. Wade in New York State law – marking the first time in decades that abortion rights was debated and embraced on the floor of either legislative chamber. However, the anti-choice-led State Senate repeated refused to act on the abortion legislation contained in the package. By 2015, the remaining pieces of the Women’s Equality Act passed both chambers and were signed by Governor Cuomo.
New York City Legislative Work:
Citywide Resolution in Support of Abortion Coverage
Local resolutions in support of reinstating insurance coverage for abortion have become a key strategy in building the groundwork for a national campaign to repeal the insidious Hyde Amendment, which denies abortion coverage to people using federal health insurance. New York City was one of the first cities to pass such a resolution. We worked hand-in-hand with the New York City Council to pass a resolution on January 23, 2013, commemorating the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and calling on the U.S. Congress to restore federal funding for abortion. Since the New York City resolution passed, seven other localities have followed suit, helping secure the grassroots support and political will for the introduction of the EACH Woman Act, a federal bill introduced in Congress this year to finally repeal the Hyde Amendment for good.
Crisis Pregnancy Center Bill
Following the release of our 2010 report detailing how so-called crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) deceive and harm women by posing as full-service reproductive health care facilities in order to spread anti-choice propaganda and manipulate women, New York City passed an ordinance requiring CPCs to disclose whether they have a licensed medical provider on staff. The law also requires CPCs to abide by standard confidentiality practices, since medical privacy laws do not apply to CPCs.
In 2009, the New York City Council strengthened the city’s Access to Reproductive Health Care Facilities Act, protecting the area surrounding reproductive health care facilities. We worked hand-in-hand with the New York City Council to pass this critical legislation, which increases penalties for following, intimidating, and harassing women or providers within a 15-foot zone around clinic premises.
In its 2014 decision in McCullen v. Coakley, the U.S. Supreme Court cited New York City’s clinic access law as a model.
New York City Education Campaigns:
TORCH is a nationally recognized program that combines leadership training and peer sexual and reproductive health education skills for New York City youth. Through an intensive training program, TORCH peer leaders develop leadership skills, knowledge about sexual and reproductive health, and the ability to advocate effectively on their own behalf. They then share their knowledge with other teens by facilitating workshops around New York City. Read all about TORCH here.
Maybe the IUD Campaign
In 2010, the National Institute launched a project to increase knowledge of IUDs among young New York City women (ages 16–25)—a group with high rates of unintended pregnancy and low use of long-acting reversible contraceptives. Developed with the insights gained from focus groups with teens and young women (ages 16-24 years), along with the input of youth from its TORCH program, the resulting Maybe the IUD campaign speaks directly to the needs and concerns of young people—especially those in lower-income communities and communities of color—seeking to plan their reproductive futures more effectively.
Recognizing its effectiveness, the New York City Department of Health instituted this campaign citywide in fall 2015, running our ads in subways and bus shelters across the city.
Historically, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) has not permitted federally qualified health centers (FQHC) to bill outside their bundled reimbursement rate for the cost of LARC devices. This policy created a significant financial barrier to health centers’ ability to offer LARC devices to their patients. The Community Health Center Association of New York State (CHCANYS) worked with the DOH to “debundle” reimbursement of the LARC device from the FQHC rate and provide direct reimbursement for the costs of LARC devices in fee-for-service Medicaid. This advocacy was informed by research, conducted in partnership with Health Management Associates (HMA), into the steps other states took to achieve this policy change. In July 2016, CMS approved a state plan amendment to allow direct reimbursement to New York State FQHCs for the acquisition cost of the LARC device, retroactive to April 1. CHCANYS will continue to partner with the National Institute and other stakeholders to support New York State FQHCs as DOH implements the LARC reimbursement policy, including ensuring that FQHCs are aware of how to track and bill for LARC devices. The toolkit developed for this initiative will serve as a guide to advocates and health centers in other states seeking similar reimbursement policy changes for LARC devices.
Together, Public Health Solutions and New York City Health + Hospitals (NYC H+H) are developing a pilot for improving access to effective LARC provision at Kings County Hospital, a safety-net hospital within the country’s largest hospital system, by tasking a program manager with providing on-site administrative support and patient-centered contraceptive counseling. One or more provider champions at Kings County are working alongside the program manager and other key stakeholders to create and implement strategies for overcoming institutional challenges to providing LARCs. Staff will receive support in billing and coding, and, as H+H rolls out a new electronic medical record system, the National Institute’s partners will ensure LARC provision is incorporated. The ongoing participation of an interdisciplinary LARC working group is addressing new barriers as they arise and moving implementation forward. Ultimately, the working group and other leaders plan to develop tools from this pilot effort to replicate in other hospitals across the H+H system.