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Assemblyman Jones’ Bill Codifying the Rural Health Council is Signed into Law

A message of the office of Assemblyman Bill Jones

Assemblyman Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay) announced that legislation he authored to statutorily establish the state Department of Health rural health council was signed into law (Ch. 419 of 2017). The council advises the state health commissioner on the unique challenges facing rural health care in New York.

“The North Country is New York’s most expansive region with some of the state’s most rural communities, which unfortunately means that there are families here that don’t have transportation to access quality health care,” Jones said. “That’s not right, and this law will help change that by ensuring the council’s work is thorough and truly takes into account our needs.”

The rural health council was established in 1988; the new law strengthens and refocuses the council, requiring that it submits a yearly report to the Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs) on the status of the health care workforce in rural areas. Additionally, the law requires that the council’s members come from rural areas It will also require meetings to be available to the public via webcast so New Yorkers can stay informed and to encourage transparency and accountability.

“As the largest rural hospital in the region, we strongly support the new rural health council and applaud Assemblyman Jones for his efforts,” said Stephens Mundy, President and CEO of UVM Health Network-CVPH “A council such as this can further support collaboration similar to what we’ve experienced with our family medicine residency which seeks to address limited access to primary care in the North Country.”

“The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) commends Assemblyman Billy Jones and Senator Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City) for sponsoring the rural health council legislation,” said Jill Furillo, RN, Executive Director of NYSNA. “It gives a boost to the families in upstate New York by creating policies and protocol that will give them access to quality healthcare – something all New Yorkers deserve.”

“As a home health aide for over 30 years, I have seen first-hand the challenges that come with providing care to a rurally populated area such as upstate New York,” said Karla Clark, North Country Home Services. “I commend Assemblyman Jones for recognizing the need to establish a rural health council that will greatly improve health care throughout the North Country.”

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