In order to prevent any unnecessary misunderstanding or alarm regarding the H1N1 Flu and the planned response of the City of New York and Health departments on the local, state and federal level, it is important that you and your family understand the realities of the H1N1 Flu. To that end, my office has compiled the following overview. If any of your specific questions are not answered by the information below, please call my office at (718) 263-5595, or e-mail us as firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year presents a special challenge to doctors and public health officials because, in addition to the regular seasonal flu, the H1N1 virus, sometimes called “swine flu,” is projected to reemerge. H1N1 first appeared in the New York area last spring and raised concerns because of the rapid speed with which it spread. It is likely that the virus will again spread rapidly this fall and winter, especially among young people, due to their lack of immunity. Over the summer, numerous health agencies around the world have been studying the virus and discovered two pieces of good news; first, the H1N1 virus produces symptoms very similar to seasonal flu and is generally no more dangerous; and second, an effective vaccine has been developed that will start becoming widely available in October.
The vaccine will first be distributed to those who are more likely to become seriously ill. These high risk categories include: children aged 6 months to 18 years, pregnant women, those with long-term health problems, and people who provide care to individuals in the more vulnerable groups. Once the demand for these priority populations is met, the U.S. Center for Disease Control recommends that everyone aged 25-64 years be vaccinated.
School Children—New York City elementary school children will be offered a free vaccination in school when it becomes available. Parents of school aged children should know that the NYC Department of Health and the Office of Emergency Management is monitoring flu activity in the schools but will only close a school as a last resort.
Senior Citizens—It will eventually be recommended that senior citizens get the vaccine. However, seniors without serious health problems have not been identified among the priority groups for the first round of vaccinations. This is because the medical community has concluded that many people born before 1957 have been found to retain some latent immunity to H1N1 from a previous flu and consequently are much less at risk.
The following preventative recommendations have been provided by the NYC Department of Health and U.S. Centers for Disease Control:
Everyone should practice preventive hand-washing and coughs and sneezes should be directed into the crook of the elbow and not into the hands.
Call your doctor to get the regular seasonal flu shot now—they may be too busy later.
Develop a plan for what to do if someone in your family becomes ill or in the unlikely event that your child’s school is closed.
Make arrangements to get the H1N1 vaccine when it becomes available. Updated information on where and when vaccine will be made available can be found at www.nyc.gov/flu
Be sure to check if the vaccine given to you or your child will require a second dose to become effective. The latest information suggests that adults will require only one dose but children may require two to develop full immunity.
If you or a family member becomes ill, please note the following recommendations:
|If You are||And You Have||You Should|
|Not in a high risk category||A fever over 100.4 plus a cough or sore throat||
Stay home until you’ve felt completely well for a day.
Don’t go to the hospital.
|In a high risk category||A fever over 100.4 plus a cough or sore throat||
Call your doctor to discuss whether you need medicine for the flu.
Don’t go to the hospital.
|A person with a severe illness including difficulty breathing||A fever over 100.4 plus a cough or sore throat||Get to a hospital right away. If you call 911, say you may have severe influenza.|
Thank you for taking the time to review this information.
28th Assembly District
Assemblyman Hevesi passed two bills out of the Assembly this session in an effort to streamline and reform the sub-metering process. “Sub-metering” involves converting a building’s existing metering structure from a single ‘master meter’ that monitors the energy usage of the building as a whole to installing individual meters in each dwelling unit. After a building converts from a master meter to a sub-metered system, tenants are responsible for their individual electric bills. Assemblyman Hevesi has found significant gaps in the current laws and regulations regarding sub-metering which have resulted in the unfair treatment of tenants in buildings that have been converted. The following two bills are the first in a series that are designed to address specific gaps in the system.
A.186-B requires inspection and regulation of all electric and gas meters that measure usage of any end use customer of electricity or gas services by the Public Service Commission. This bill will require oversight by the Public Service Commission. Currently, there is a lack of oversight of the actual sub-meters that are being installed in tenant’s apartments. Tenants have minimal recourse to handle sub-meters that are faulty or overcharge. A.186-B passed the Assembly on June 22, 2009. This bill has been referred to the Energy and Telecommunications Committee in the Senate.
A.193-A requires a specific timeline that the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) and the New York City Rent Guidelines Board must adhere to when setting rent reduction schedules so that tenants in rent regulated apartments receive reductions based on current energy prices. Tenants in rent regulated apartments (rent controlled or rent stabilized) are entitled to a reduction in their rent calculated by the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR). Currently, DHCR is required through regulation to update their schedule of rent reductions every three years. In 2008, Assemblyman Hevesi found that DHCR had not updated these figures since 2002, and, as a consequence, tenants whose building had undergone sub-metering from 2005 on were receiving rent reductions based on outdated figures. DHCR has since updated to reflect the 2005 data, but has yet to publish this data for 2008. Given the lapse in adhering to their own regulations, Assemblyman Hevesi felt that this requirement should become law in order to protect tenants undergoing sub-metering. A.193-A passed the Assembly on June 22, 2009. This bill has been referred to the Energy and Telecommunications Committee in the Senate.
As Chairman of the Assembly’s Subcommittee on Renewable Energy, Assemblyman Hevesi is responsible for spearheading statewide policy initiatives to achieve energy demand reduction. Below are descriptions of two bills that were passed through the Assembly this year, written and introduced by the Assemblyman, that are designed to promote energy efficiency in New York State.
A.8916 directs the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to undertake a statewide study of consumer behaviors with respect to energy efficiency and clean energy technology. The State of New York allocates hundreds of millions of dollars annually to a wide range of state and local programs designed to improve energy efficiency and achieve demand reduction. There are two significant roadblocks to accurately assessing the amount of energy saved. Consumer behavior and regular fluctuations in the price of energy factor directly into the amount of energy used. This study will be the first comprehensive statewide analysis specifically related to energy efficiency, consumer behavior and price fluctuations. It will allow for a much more accurate assessment of whether the large amount of money, taken directly from New York ratepayers, is achieving its intended goal. This bill was passed in the Assembly on June 18th, and has been referred to the Rules Committee in the Senate.
A.7293-A requires the use of cool roof technology on new or substantially renovated state-owned building. The temperature of a cool roof is lower on hot sunny days than that of a conventional roof, and therefore reduces the energy required to take down the temperature of the building via air conditioning. While dark surfaces absorb the sun’s energy and become hot, light colored surfaces reflect solar energy and stay cooler. Reducing energy loads through simple and cost effective methods, such as cool roofing, will save the state money for the escalating long term costs of energy. This bill was passed in the Assembly on June 18th, and has been referred to the Finance Committee in the Senate.
A.6099 • Clark (MS)
Makes appropriations to Department of Environmental Protection N.Y. City for a study of flooding problems in the borough of Queens.
A.5517 • Lentol (MS)
Relates to amount of apportionments of deficiencies in apportionments of state monies to certain non-public schools to reimburse them for their expenses in complying with certain state requirements.
A.584-A • Cahill (MS)
Requires polling places to be accessible to physically disabled voters.
A.1559 • Colton (MS)
Directs board of elections in N.Y. City to furnish voting materials in Russian language as well as in English.
A.8461-C • Lancman (MS)
Enacts the “hospital closure planning act.” The purpose of this legislation is to ensure that the Department of Health engages in adequate planning to minimize the health care impact of a hospital closure upon the surrounding community.
A.7791-A • Kellner
Requires hospitals, nursing homes and community health clinics to provide patient documents in large print format, language assistance services and audio recordings.
A.613-A • John (MS)
Relates to unemployment insurance benefits for professional employment by certain educational institutions.
A.6046 • Magee (MS)
Provides that no dog shall be restrained by a tethering device attached to a fixed point or to a running cable trolley system for more than six hours per day.
A.8171 • Cahill
Prohibits payors from imposing higher co-pays on consumers for physical therapy services on the basis of provider or setting.
A.6474 • Maisel (MS)
Designates January twenty-seventh as a day of commemoration to be named Holocaust Remembrance Day.
A.3160 • Weprin (MS)
Increases the number of judges of the civil court of the city of New York, county of Queens.
A.3688 • Bradley (MS)
Prohibits providers of health care plans from substantially altering health care plans after the contract has been entered into.
A.3917 • Koon (MS)
Makes certain persons who are eligible for or receiving social security disability insurance benefits eligible for elderly pharmaceutical insurance coverage.
A.1135 • Dinowitz (MS)
Establishes program for familial dysautonomia and Tay-Sachs disease screening; authorizes Department of Health to provide grants.
A.4415 • Towns (MS)
Prohibits missed appointment charges where physician’s office receives notice of cancellation of appointment at least one hour before time; requires disclosure.
A.173 • Jeffries (MS)
Provides that there shall be no solicitation for credit card holders through State or City University of NY unless credit education courses are provided.
A.5710 • Gottfried (MS)
Prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or expression and includes offenses regarding gender identity or expression under the hate crimes statute.
With home heating costs expected to rise this winter, people who pay a large portion of their income for heat should be aware that help is available. The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) is a federally funded program that assists eligible households in meeting their home energy needs.
New York’s benefit program is structured in such a way that higher benefits are provided to those households that have a large percentage of their income dedicated to energy costs, contain a vulnerable individual or have the lowest income.
To qualify for assistance, you must meet several criteria. First, you must meet the income requirement and be either 60 or older, be a head of household receiving social security disability or live either alone or with a spouse and receive SSI code A. You must also live in an eligible housing situation. This generally means that you either pay directly for heating costs or must pay rent with heating costs included. If you live in subsidized housing, you must pay heating costs separately from your rent. Individual applicants must also be U.S. citizens or qualified aliens.
Eligible households that pay directly for gas heat can receive a benefit amount of up to $400. Eligible households that pay directly for oil heat can receive a benefit amount of up to $600. Eligible households that do not pay directly for heat receive a standard statewide benefit of either $40 or $50, depending on income level.
|HOUSEHOLD SIZE||MONTHLY INCOME LIMITS|
The Home Energy Assistance Program enrollment begins November 2, 2009. Those eligible for benefits must apply using a special HEAP application available in our district office. Please contact my Deputy Chief of Staff, Roman Paprocki, at (718) 263-5595 and apply immediately.
My staff and I are available to assist residents on a wide range of topics and issues. Below we have compiled a small sample of recent constituent cases in order to alert you and your neighbors to some of the services available through this office. Please contact us at our District Office at (718) 263-5595, our Albany office at (518) 455-4926, or via e-mail at email@example.com.
Several residents in a large rent-regulated building alerted us that they were receiving rent bills with retroactive charges for a Major Capital Improvement (MCI). After contacting DHCR and the building’s management company, my office determined that the tenants had no obligation to pay these charges and they were subsequently removed from the residents’ bills. Tenants who had already paid a portion of the improper charge were issued a credit towards the next month’s rent.
A constituent contacted our office when Medicaid discontinued her child’s benefits. Medicaid had cancelled home health care claiming that the parents had failed to file recertification paperwork. The parents were able to provide my staff with a copy of these documents along with a return receipt from the post office proving that it had been submitted before the deadline. The child’s benefits were reinstated and home care services resumed the next day.
A constituent contacted our office because she stopped receiving her unemployment benefits even though she believed she was still eligible. Our office investigated the matter and discovered that the NYS Department of Labor had made an error. Within a few days, the mistake had been corrected and the constituent began to receive her benefits again along with several weeks of retroactive payments to which she was entitled.
A constituent contacted our office after receiving a shipment of expensive prescription drugs that he neither ordered nor needed. Weeks before he had received a cold-call from a drug supplier that had asked him numerous questions about his health-status, doctors and Medicare coverage. Believing that the caller was a representative from Medicare, our constituent supplied the information and was surprised when he received drugs in the mail, along with a sizeable co-pay bill. Initially the company refused to take the medication back and provide a refund despite several requests. A member of my staff contacted the company and they subsequently agreed to allow the drugs to be returned at no cost to our constituent.
The Legislative E-mail Program is specifically designed to enable residents to support or oppose pending legislation before it reaches the floor of the New York State Assembly for a vote.
The e-mail sent from my office will provide the bill number and a brief description of all legislation being considered in committee. Upon specific request, we will provide the language of the bill as well as support memos, bill sponsors, and the bill’s legislative history.
This process allows participants to have access to all relevant information, to ask specific questions, and to register their approval or opposition to legislation. The Legislative E-mail Program also allows my staff and I to specifically answer any questions or concerns you may have, and also outline, in detail, the reasons for my support or opposition. Currently, two thousand three hundred residents of our community participate in this program.
If you would like to participate, please e-mail my office at:
Thank you for the privilege of allowing me to serve as your representative in the New York State Legislature.
My office distributes weekly e-mail updates on pending legislation being considered in the following committees in the New York State Assembly:
Alcoholism and Drug Abuse
Children and Families
Corporations and Authorities