Medical Aid in Dying Act Sponsors Paulin & Hoylman-Sigal Amend Bill to Add New Safeguards in Response to Colleagues’ Requests

Amendments explicitly prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage for care because a person does or does NOT request Medical Aid in Dying

Albany, New York - Compassion & Choices’ Senior Campaign Director for NY/NJ Corinne Carey praised Assemblymember Amy Paulin and State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, the two prime sponsors of the Medical Aid in Dying Act, for amending the bill to add additional safeguards at the request of their colleagues. The amended bill numbers are A.995-b and S.2445-b.

Medical aid in dying allows a terminally ill, mentally capable adult with six months or less to live to request a prescription from their doctor for medication they can take to die peacefully when their suffering becomes too great to bear. Ten states, including New Jersey, Vermont and Maine, as well as Washington, D.C., have authorized medical aid in dying. 

A recent YouGov poll showed New Yorkers overwhelmingly support medical aid in dying, 72-23%, including strong majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents, as well as Black, white, Latino, and Asian voters, and voters from every region of the state.

“We are grateful to Senator Hoylman-Sigal and Assemblymember Paulin for the extensive interaction they continue to have with their colleagues. They are talking to their fellow legislators about medical aid in dying and the bill,” Carey said. “And they are listening and being responsive to their colleagues’ suggestions for adding even stronger safeguards to a bill that already has intentionally strong safeguards built in.”

Specifically, the amendments to the Medical Aid in Dying Act will:

  1. Make even more explicit a prohibition that a health insurance company cannot deny coverage for care because a person requests, or fails to request, medical aid in dying. The new amendment says, “No third-party health care payer may deny coverage for any service or item that would otherwise be covered by the policy because the patient has or has not chosen to request or use medication under this article.”
  2. Expand the list of people who cannot serve as a witness to a dying patient who requests medical aid in dying to include the patient’s domestic partner, health care proxy, or anyone who has power of attorney for the patient.
  3. Extend immunity from adverse action for those who refuse to participate in medical aid in dying, by adding a new section explicitly providing immunity from “employment, credentialing, or contractual liability or penalty for any reasonable good-faith action or refusing to act under” the law. 

Currently, there are a combined 86 Senators and Assemblymembers sponsoring the Medical Aid in Dying Act.

Paulin said: “As I continue to talk to my colleagues about this important legislation – as I have for the last nine years – I’m often moved by experiences in their lives that they share with me, and also the very smart suggestions they make to improve the bill. These amendments reflect my colleagues’ input – the 62 Assembly cosponsors, the other Assembly supporters, and even those members who have yet to finalize their position on the bill.”

Hoylman-Sigal said: “Twenty-two of my colleagues have joined me in sponsoring the Medical Aid in Dying Act and many others have talked to me about their support. These amendments, designed to ensure that the law clearly spells out the comprehensive safeguards in the bill, are based on conversations that Assemblymember Paulin and I have had with our colleagues.”

The Medical Aid in Dying Act is supported by numerous advocacy groups in the state, including:

1 in 9 LI Breast Cancer Action Coalition
Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester
Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC)
Harlem United
Indivisible Westchester
Latino Commission on AIDS
Latinos for Healthcare Equity
League of Women Voters of NYS
New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU)
NYS Academy of Family Physicians
NYS Public Health Association 
Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts
SAGE NY (Services for LGBT elders)
StateWide Senior Action Council
Westchester Coalition for Legal Abortion
WESPAC Foundation 

“With these new safeguards – added to the already very strong safeguards already in the legislation based on 25 years of experience with medical aid in dying in this country – the time to pass the bill is NOW. There is no reason to continue to delay providing dying New Yorkers this compassionate option that is overwhelmingly supported by New Yorkers. The Legislature has a chance to show its compassion and love – do it,” Carey said.