Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner Responds to Governor Cuomo’s 2021 State of the State Address

“As I listened to the Governor’s 2021 State of the State Address, I was thrilled to hear commitments to expanding the workforce to encourage the Green Energy transformation in NYS, passing the Medical Supplies Act, and improving accessibility to telemedicine.

As the incoming Chair of the Legislative Commission on Skills Development and Career Education, as well as the sponsor of the Clean Fuel Standard of 2021 (A.862), I look forward to working with the Governor on building our workforce to advance New York State’s Green Energy Transformation. Addressing climate change while creating new jobs in the green energy sector is critically important to both the environment and the economic future of New York.

I am also pleased that the Governor has committed to the passage and signing of the Medical Supplies Act, which will prioritize the purchase of American-made PPE and medical supplies. This bill will incent businesses to produce medical supplies and equipment right here in New York State. One of the many lessons that we’ve learned over the past year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is the critical importance of having biotech and medical supply manufacturing in-state.

Lastly, it is heartening to hear the Governor’s commitment to expanding access to telemedicine. Telemedicine is an important tool that will improve accessibility to healthcare, particularly in rural communities. Over the past two years, I have worked with medical professionals and experts to craft legislation that will provide for payment parity between telehealth visits and in-person doctors’ visits—as well as to provide for patient protections. Providing for payment parity will make the delivery of telehealth an economically viable mode for physicians and improve availability to those who would benefit from telehealth services. I look forward to reading the Governor’s proposal and working with him to expand access.

However, for the expansion of telehealth services to be successful, we must also expand access to reliable broadband. In the Governor’s address, he claimed that affordability of broadband outweighs the issues of accessibility. People in the communities that I represent will tell you that this is not the case. While affordability is important, there are many areas of Upstate New York that still do not have access to reliable broadband. Under the current system if one household in a census tract is connected to broadband, the entire census tract is considered to be “covered.” This has resulted in a false notion that accessibility is no longer an issue. In the face of a global pandemic that has forced employees to work from home, students to transition to online learning, and businesses to go completely online, access to reliable broadband has never been more important. I hope that the Governor will work with the Legislature to expand access, as well as to increase affordability.