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Hochul signs legislation addressing labor and health care inequalities for women


Thu, Dec 23rd 2021 01:10 pm

Legislation provides menstrual products at no cost to menstruating individuals in homeless shelters; directs Department of Financial Services to review covered benefits relating to childbirth; directs Urban Development Corp. to conduct a study regarding assistance needed by women and people of color to pursue technology careers in STEM fields

Gov. Kathy Hochul recently signed legislation addressing several challenges facing women and people of color. These bills address labor and health inequalities, from ensuring proper menstrual care is accessible, to promoting more women and minorities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

"New York must continue to break down barriers for women and fight inequality throughout our state," Hochul said. "These laws will address a variety of important issues, supporting STEM careers and helping to ensure equity and access in women's health."

Providing Menstrual Products to Those in Homeless Shelters

Legislation (S.6572/A.529-A) provides menstrual products at no cost to menstruating individuals in homeless shelters, such as sanitary napkins, tampons and panty liners. Menstrual products can be unaffordable for those already struggling. This bill provides these products free of charge so those living in homeless shelters do not have to resort to using unsafe alternatives that can result in serious infection.

Health Care Coverage Related to Childbirth

Legislation (S.4827/A.7315) directs the Department of Financial services, in consultation with the Department of Health, to prepare a report with recommendations on its review of covered benefits related to childbirth offered by all health insurance providers in New York. This review will include examination of length of stay, costs incurred by patients and reimbursed to providers and additional benefits offered. This bill will work to uncover hidden costs and disparities in rates negotiated by insurers covering the birth, and determine if statewide standards need to be adopted.

Underrepresentation in STEM

Legislation (S.531-B/A.530-B) directs the Urban Development Corp. to conduct a study regarding the assistance needed by women and minorities to pursue STEM careers. The Urban Development Corp. will work with the State Education Department and the Department of Labor to determine the amount assistance that should be provided in school districts, charter schools, BOCES, and private schools to develop new and enhance current STEM programs in grades 6-12 including career exploration, opportunities for technical skills attainment and partnerships with postsecondary education and training programs. 

Hochul’s office said, “Women and minorities are severely underrepresented in STEM, often because they were not encouraged to early on. In a 2010 survey by the Bayer Corporation of female and minority chemists and chemical engineers, 77% said significant numbers of women and minorities are missing from the U.S. STEM work force because ‘they were not identified, encouraged or nurtured to pursue STEM studies early on.’ This bill will help identify the types of assistance necessary to encourage more women and minorities to enter STEM fields.”

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