December 8, 2023

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In the News-New York State

Attorney General James Uncovers Major Problems Accessing Mental Health Care through Insurance Companies

New York Attorney General Letitia James this week released a report demonstrating that health insurance companies are failing to maintain accurate and up-to-date mental health provider network information, potentially exacerbating the mental health crisis in New York. 

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) surveyed nearly 400 mental health providers listed on health plans’ networks and found that the overwhelming majority, 86 percent, were “ghosts,” meaning they were unreachable, not-in-network, or not accepting new patients. The Attorney General charged that inaccurate network directories are worsening the statewide mental health crisis and disproportionately impact marginalized communities, leading to adverse health outcomes, and increasing costs for patients.

OAG staff conducted a statewide review of 13 health plans: Aetna, CDPHP, Cigna, Emblem, Empire BlueCross BlueShield, Excellus, Fidelis, Healthfirst, Independent Health, MetroPlus, Molina, MVP, and UnitedHealthcare. Callers attempted to schedule an appointment for an adult or child with a mental health provider who was listed as accepting new patients. Of the 396 providers called across all plans, only 56 providers, or 14 percent of those contacted, offered appointments. Eighty-six percent of the listed, in-network mental health providers staff called were ghosts, as they were unreachable, not in-network, or not accepting new patients.

Attorney General James asserted that to address this crisis and ensure that New Yorkers with mental health conditions have access to affordable and necessary treatment, major action is needed. State agencies must propose regulations for network adequacy for mental health and substance use disorder treatment services by December 31, 2023. The OAG report recommends that:

  • State regulators, such as the Department of Health (DOH), the Office of Mental Health, and the Department of Financial Services, should actively and frequently monitor health insurance networks through secret shopper surveys and other techniques to ensure that their directories are up to date. In particular, health plans should be required to ensure that members can get an appointment with an in-network provider within a short time frame. Plans must also collect and report information about whether network providers are actually providing care. 
  • State regulators should also take enforcement actions against health plans that violate the law, and seek penalties, corrective actions, and restitution to consumers. 
  • Health plans should be required to meet cultural competence and language access standards. The 2023 amendments to the New York Public Health Law require DOH to consider during its network adequacy reviews an insurer’s ability to provide culturally and linguistically competent care to meet the needs of the enrollee population. These provisions should be codified into a regulatory requirement that all New York health plans provide access to culturally and linguistically competent mental health care. 
  • Health plans should actively recruit and provide more incentives for mental health care providers to join and stay in their networks, including by providing higher reimbursement rates and reducing administrative burdens on providers.
  • Health plans should also increase reimbursement rates for mental health providers to incentivize more providers to join their networks. 
  • Health plans can incentivize greater mental health provider participation in networks by reducing administrative burdens that may deter many providers from joining networks. 

MTA Approves Move of Congestion Pricing Plan to Public Review

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Board this week voted 9-1 to begin public review of a tolling structure for Central Business District Tolling, New York’s congestion pricing program.   Nassau County representative David Mack was the lone negative vote.

The public review, to be conducted in accordance with the New York State Administrative Procedure Act (SAPA), will be similar to review processes regularly undertaken when MTA proposes fare and toll modifications. Following a 60-day public comment period, there will be a series of hybrid virtual and in-person public hearings that will be held on dates and times to be announced.

The congestion pricing proposals are “informed by, and largely mirror,” recommendations issued on November 30th by the Traffic Mobility Review Board and would impose a $15 fee on vehicles entering Manhattan below 60th Street. Additionally, trucks could pay $24-$36, depending on size, motorcycles would pay $7.50, taxis would pay $1.25 and rideshare vehicles would pay $2.50.

After the conclusion of the public hearing process, the MTA Board will review the input received, and then schedule a vote to authorize adoption, as is or with modifications. Toll collection is anticipated to begin in late spring.

While the public review process is underway, the vendor that is building out the toll system and infrastructure will continue installing the infrastructure that will be used for toll collection. Currently, 60% of the sites are complete.

According to published reports, the City has requested exceptions for both taxis and school buses. MTA Chair and CEO Janno Leiber said school bus exemptions make sense, but the agency would have to figure out how to assess the bus companies when their vehicles are not transporting students.

In addition, at Wednesday’s meeting officials indicated that under the MTA environmental assessment, the agency reserves the right to increase the congestion pricing toll 25% on gridlock alert days and the MTA also reserves the right to raise or lower the tolls by up to 10% within congestion pricing’s first 12 months, per published reports.

 In the News-New York City    

Mayor Adams Appoints Lynelle Maginley-Liddie as DOC Commissioner

New York City Mayor Eric Adams appointed Lynelle Maginley-Liddie as the 38th commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction (DOC). 

Commissioner Maginley-Liddie most recently served as NYC DOC’s First Deputy Commissioner, appointed to that role in January 2021. Ms. Maginley-Liddie has been with the Department since 2015, as Agency Attorney in the Legal Division, and in April 2018 as Deputy General Counsel. In August 2020, she was promoted to Acting Senior Deputy Commissioner and Chief Diversity Officer. Ms. Maginley-Liddie advises on matters related to departmental operations, policy improvements, new initiatives, and legal issues. She supports staff at all levels of the Department.

Before joining the Department of Correction, Ms. Maginley-Liddie was an Associate at the law firm of Leader Berkon Colao & Silverstein LLP. She received her Juris Doctor from Fordham University School of Law. She is licensed in New York and New Jersey and is admitted to the Eastern and Southern District Courts of New York, as well as the United States District Court of New Jersey. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Government from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Mayor Adams, Speaker Adams Celebrate Passage of City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality

The Adams Administration and New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams celebrated the New York City Council’s approval of the City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality proposal, a set of citywide zoning changes that will facilitate climate action, clean energy, and resiliency.

With Wednesday’s approval, City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality will go into effect by next week. According to the Mayor, the initiative updates outdated regulations that created major roadblocks for New Yorkers who hoped to retrofit their homes for energy efficiency or resiliency, install heat pumps or solar panels, switch to electric vehicles, or compost and recycle.

It’s 17 policies include: 

Facilitating a Renewable Energy Grid: Removing zoning obstacles that limit how much rooftop space can be covered by solar panels. This policy makes it easier to install energy storage infrastructure needed for solar energy and facilitate standalone, grid-supporting solar and community microgrids that are currently banned in residential areas. These changes will open over 8,500 acres of parking lots across the city for potential use of solar panels. If fully built out, these solar panels could power more than 130,000 homes. 

Creating Cleaner Buildings: Easing restrictions on the height and thickness of walls that restrict building electrification and retrofits for greater efficiency. This policy will add flexibility, making these modifications possible while maintaining the look and feel of the city’s neighborhoods. These changes will facilitate environmentally-friendly retrofits for over 50,000 buildings, including more than 1 million homes where retrofits are currently infeasible and restricted by city zoning. 

Supporting Electric Vehicles and Micromobility: More than doubling commercially-zoned land where electric-vehicle charging facilities can be located. This policy also clarifies regulations and facilitates safe bicycle and e-mobility parking. These changes mean that electric vehicle charging is now possible in more than 400 million additional square feet of space throughout the city. 

Modernizing Water, Compost, and Recycling Regulations: Expanding the use of permeable pavement and rain gardens will cut red tape and eliminate uncertainty for recycling and composting and encourage rooftop food production. These changes will help divert the 34 percent of New York City’s residential waste that is organic material from landfills to beneficial use. 

Prior receiving the City Council’s approval, City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality received positive recommendations from 25 Community Boards, as well as from the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens borough presidents, and the Bronx and Manhattan Borough Boards. It also received an 11-1 vote in support at the City Planning Commission.

 City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality is the first component of Mayor Adams’ three-part City of Yes plan to modernize the city’s zoning.

Bills Passed by the Council

Introduction 195-B — Sponsored by Council Member Carlina Rivera Provides a mechanism for occupants of multiple dwelling buildings to report potential housing maintenance code violations in unoccupied units.

Introduction 774-A — Sponsored by Majority Leader Keith Powers Requires DEP to measure sound levels within dwelling units on request when the sound is related to construction activities. DEP would be required to measure the sound level at any point within the unit with windows and doors that may affect the measurement closed.

Introduction 775-A Sponsored by Majority Leader Keith Powers Mandates that DEP publish the results of their noise inspections online within 5 business days after they have been completed.

Introduction 776-ASponsored by Majority Leader Keith PowersRequires DEP and NYC Police Department (NYPD) to give a copy of the report created after a 311-noise complaint to anyone who requests it and provides the 311 tracking number within 14 days of receipt of the request.

Introduction 778-A — Sponsored by Majority Leader Keith Powers — Codifies and expands the DEP’s “noise camera” program, which pairs decibel readers or other noise monitoring equipment with cameras capable of taking a series of photos, videos, or other recorded images to detect motor vehicles exceeding the noise limits under city law.

Introduction 1118-A Sponsored by Council Member Nantasha Williams — Requires the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, in consultation with the Office of Racial Equity and the Commission on Human Rights, to create an interactive anti-racism and anti-racial discrimination training for City agency employees.

Introduction 1194-A  Sponsored by Council Member James F. Gennaro — Capping the compensation a citizen complainant can receive from a noise complaint at $5 or $10, depending on whether the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) or the citizen complainant prosecutes the proceeding. For citizen complaint proceedings commenced prior to the effective date of the bill, the maximum penalty would be capped at $50. 

Comptroller DiNapoli: Taxpayers Moving Out of State Spiked in 2020, Led by Those Leaving NYC

Net-Outmigration Declined Significantly in 2021, but Still Exceeded Pre-Pandemic Levels

A State Comptroller report released this week found the COVID-19 pandemic caused a significant shift in taxpayer movement, with net out-migration quadrupling in 2020 compared to the prior year. While declining in 2021, the net number of taxpayers leaving remained one-third greater than the pre-pandemic average. 

“The pandemic upended everyone’s life and caused a big shift in the movement of New York taxpayers in 2020,” Comptroller DiNapoli said. “While patterns shifted closer to pre-pandemic trends in 2021, net out-migration rates remained higher, particularly for families. Policy makers need to make sure the state remains an attractive, affordable place to work and to live. Doing so will help maintain the state’s largest revenue source to ensure vital services continue in order to provide a high quality of life for all New Yorkers.”

The report examines personal income tax (PIT) filings for the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021 and found more than one of every 100 resident PIT filers left New York state in 2020.

Single filers comprise the largest share of state PIT taxpayers and accounted for over half of the net out-migration in 2020. Married and head of household taxpayers (families) also left New York at elevated rates in 2020, nearly double those in 2019. In 2021, families continued to exit New York at higher rates than prior to the pandemic. 

In 2021, an equivalent of one in every 100 married resident filers left New York. Married filers earning between $100,000 and $500,000 continued to experience the greatest out-migration, a trend that continued from prior to the pandemic.

Prior to and during the pandemic, the majority of taxpayers leaving New York City relocated to the two other downstate regions, with the largest number moving to Long Island. However, the number of city taxpayers moving to the other regions of the state more than doubled in 2020 and remained above pre-pandemic levels in 2021.


Governor Hochul Unveils Vision for Creedmoor Campus in Eastern Queens

Governor Kathy Hochul this week unveiled the Creedmoor Community Master Plan, a framework for redeveloping land at the 125-acre Creedmoor Psychiatric Center campus in Eastern Queens. 

The plan seeks to develop 58 acres of the State-owned Creedmoor campus into a community with homes, recreational spaces, greenery, and neighborhood retail. It is the result of a six-month planning process led by Empire State Development (ESD) and the Queens Borough President’s Office 

The Master Plan introduces over 2,800 units of new housing, with more than 55 percent designated as homeownership. The Plan also introduces a mix of affordable rental options for seniors and families, and offers individuals who have served in the armed forces preferential access to a portion of the project’s units. In addition, the Plan designates approximately 14 acres for open space and sets aside locations for amenities such as a recreation center, daycare facility, school, and neighborhood retail.

ESD will form the Creedmoor Community Advisory Committee to provide ongoing guidance on implementation. The next steps include commencing an environmental review process in 2024. ESD will also create a General Project Plan and will release requests for proposals (RFPs) to find development partners who will implement the Plan in phases.

NYS & the Seneca Nation of Indians Enter Short-Term Agreement to Extend Gaming Compact

Governor Kathy Hochul and Seneca Nation of Indians President Rickey L. Armstrong, Sr. signed an extension of the current gaming compact between New York State and the Seneca Nation of Indians through March 31, 2024.   The original compact was scheduled to expire December 9th

The extension will automatically renew unless one of the parties decides not to renew it or a new gaming compact is agreed upon. The terms of the compact are unchanged from before and both sides will be meeting again in the coming weeks to continue negotiations on a long-term compact.

Following Ratification of SAG-AFTRA and WGA Contracts, Governor Hochul Directs State Agencies to Fast-track Process and Allow Film & TV Industry to Resume

Governor Kathy Hochul this week directed State agencies to fast-track the process for film and television productions, allowing these industries to quickly resume work now that both SAG-AFTRA and the WGA have ended strikes and ratified contracts.   The Executive Chamber sent letters to more than 30 agencies directing them to fast-track approval and permitting process.

By December 11th, State entities will review processes for marketing, making state-owned properties and services available for production, and also identify ways to support business attraction. This includes expediting permits, keeping fees and direct personnel costs at state cost, maintaining an industry point of contact within the agency to handle production requests, and ensuring the agency maintains a person or team to act as a liaison to expedite permits, clearances, and the provision services. 

The film and television production industry adds over $9 billion in Gross Domestic Product each year.

Governor Hochul Welcomes the 2024 Belmont Stakes to the Saratoga Race Course

Governor Kathy Hochul this week announced that the Belmont Stakes will be held at Saratoga Race Course in 2024 to allow for the uninterrupted construction of a new Belmont Park, the Long Island home of the third leg of the Triple Crown.

Highlighted by the 156th edition of the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 8, the 2024 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival will begin on Thursday, June 6th and continue through Sunday, June 9th. The four-day Festival at Saratoga Race Course will include 23 stakes races in total with purses totaling $9.7 million.

The New York Racing Association (NYRA) will increase the purse of the Belmont Stakes from $1.5 million to $2 million in 2024. In addition, pending the approval of the North American Graded Stakes Committee, the Belmont Stakes will be contested at 1 1/4 miles in 2024 rather than the traditional 1 1/2 miles due to the configuration of Saratoga’s main track.

Mayor Adams Names Leila Bozorg As Executive Director For Housing; Launches Housing-At-Risk Task Force for Affordable Projects

New York City Mayor Eric Adams this week announced the appointment of Leila Bozorg as the city’s new Executive Director of Housing. Mayor Adams also launched the “Housing-at-Risk Task Force” to save projects that are in jeopardy due to the expiration of the “Affordable Housing New York” 421-a tax abatement program. While the 421-a tax abatement for affordable housing projects expired as of June 15, 2022, projects that began before its expiration can still receive the tax benefit as long as they are complete by June 15, 2026.

Created through an executive order signed by Mayor Adams this week, the “Housing-at-Risk Task Force” will bring together city agencies and external project management support to help ensure that up to 50 former 421-a projects will stay on schedule to deliver at least 5,000 affordable units before the deadline in 2026.   

To help these projects reach completion, the new task force will convene the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB), New York City Department of Environmental Protection, Fire Department of the City of New York, New York City Department of Transportation, and HPD, as well as local authorities and external parties. Through an application process and proactive outreach, the task force will lead affordable projects through a “boot camp” process to establish a clear schedule for permitting and inspections to help the projects obtain sign-off to welcome residents. The application to enter the program is available online.

Coming Up

New York State

Tuesday, December 12th

To Receive Testimony on the Causes and Effects of Poverty and Concentrated Poverty in New York’s Medium- and Small-Sized Cities, and Policies the Legislature Can Work to Implement to Reduce Poverty

Senate Standing Committee on Cities 2

Roosevelt Hearing Room A, Legislative Office Building, 2nd Floor, Albany, 11 a.m.

Thursday, December 14th

Local Government Procurement

Joint – Assembly Standing Committee on Cities & Local Governments

Roosevelt Hearing Room C, Legislative Office Building, 2nd Floor, Albany, 10:30 a.m.


New York City

Monday, December 11th

Committees on Finance, Council Chambers – City Hall – Public Testimony, 10 a.m.

Oversight – Mayor’s November Financial Plan.

Tuesday, December 12th

Committee on Aging, Committee Room – City Hall, 10 a.m.

Oversight – Older Adult Workforce Programs.

Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises, 250 Broadway – Committee Room, 16th Floor, 11 a.m.

Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Sitings and Dispositions, 250 Broadway – Committee Room, 16th Floor, 11:30 a.m.

Committee on Land Use, 250 Broadway – Committee Room, 16th Floor, 12 p.m.

Committee on Environmental Protection, Resiliency and Waterfronts, Council Chambers, 1 p.m.

Oversight – The City’s Obligation to Reduce Carbon Emissions from Government Operations.

Committees on Contracts & Small Business, Committee Room – City Hall, 1 p.m.

Oversight – The Role of Small Businesses in Shelter Food Procurement.


Wednesday, December 13th

Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries, and International Intergroup Relations, Council Chambers – City Hall, 1 p.m.

Oversight – Arts and Cultural Organizations’ Outreach into New York City Communities.

Committee on Consumer and Worker Protection, Committee Room – City Hall, 1 p.m.

Oversight – Street Vending in NYC. 


Thursday, December 14th

Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises, 250 Broadway – Committee Room, 16th Floor, 11 a.m.

Committees on Education & State and Federal Legislation, Council Chambers – City Hall, 1 p.m. 

Oversight – New Phonics Based Curriculum and Dyslexia Screening in NYC Public Schools.

Committees on General Welfare & Youth Services, Committee Room – City Hall, 1 p.m.

Oversight – Preventative Services for At-Risk and Justice Involved Youth.


Friday, December 15th

Committees on Public Safety & Technology, Council Chambers – City Hall, 1 p.m.

Oversight – NYPD’s Implementation of the Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST) Act.

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