Public Health

Assemblyman Abinanti is working to improve health services. Everyone should have access to quality, affordable medical care.

EpiPens

The New York Legislature passed Assemblyman Abinanti’s legislation to permit schools to stock and administer epinephrine without a prescription in an emergency situation. Present law prohibits stocking or using an EpiPen without a prescription.

Medical Marijuana

Assemblyman Abinanti voted for a new law establishing a medical marijuana program. He supported the initiative to allow medical marijuana (in non-smokeable form) through a tightly regulated program by doctor’s prescription for those suffering from specified serious medical conditions.

Heroin

To combat the rapid rise of heroin use, Assemblyman Abinanti voted for a series of new laws that increases access to treatment, improves accessibility to lifesaving naloxone antidote kits, enhances public awareness campaigns and strengthens prohibitions on illegal drug distribution.

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As a County Legislator, Tom was a leader in protecting public health. He didn’t just talk about it. He did it.

Keeping Kids From Smoking

Tom Abinanti was among the first public officials to urge New York State to sue the tobacco companies to stop their marketing to kids. Tom has successfully pushed for Westchester County to join the lawsuit separately–insuring Westchester’s fair share of the settlement monies.

The law passed in 2003, which Tom sponsored, banning smoking in all workplaces is proving effective. While the law was designed to protect workers from second hand smoke, it protects all of us. Now that the state has enacted similar legislation, all New Yorkers enjoy cleaner indoor air.

Tom sponsored, and passed, Westchester’s legislation–the first in the country–to ban the sale of herbal (non-tobacco) cigarettes to minors.

As Chair of the Board’s Health Committee, Tom worked to strengthen the ban on the sale of tobacco products to minors, and to prohibit advertising from where it is most likely to be seen by kids. In Westchester, new cigarette machines must be equipped with lock-out devices and self-serve sales of tobacco products is banned.

Tom succeeded in changing County policies so that smoking is now banned in Kiddyland and  on all lines at Playland. Tom believes that adult smoking sets a bad example for our children, endangering their health.

Protecting Public Health

When he served as the Board’s Health Committee Chair, Tom Abinanti fast-tracked vital legislation to address a number of critical public health issues.

When a sewage spill went unpublicized, he successfully sponsored a new law requiring health officials to alert all local officials to any incident threatening public health in their communities. This immediate notification law gives everyone as much time as possible to respond and minimizes health risks.

In 1998, Tom guided to passage a law to establish the Westchester Medical Center as an independent state-charted public benefit corporation– separate from the County– to insure that it would continue to provide world-class medical care while saving taxpayers millions.

Recently, based on the recommendations of a task force that Tom led, the Board of Legislators unanimously approved a new agreement with the Westchester Medical Center. The new ten-year pact replaces the previous contract negotiated when the hospital became independent. Updating the county – hospital financial relationship, it further insulates the county’s taxpayers from financial liability for the facility. The new document also ensures the Medical Center’s continuation as the heart of a superb medical network and as a billion-dollar economic engine for our region.

Tom conducted a hearing of a local nursing home to determine whether their residents are receiving proper care and whether millions of taxpayer dollars are being appropriately spent.

Lowering Medical Center Parking Rates

After 7 years, Tom Abinanti’s efforts paid off–parking rates at the Westchester Medical Center went down several years ago.

He was one of only 4 legislators to vote against giving control of the Medical Center Parking Garage to a private company. At that time, he accurately forewarned that parking rates would skyrocket and that the taxpayers would eventually have to buy the garage back–at a significant cost. This is exactly what happened.

The new independent Westchester Medical Center Board, which now runs the hospital, saw how these high parking rates were driving patients elsewhere and they decided to purchase the garage from the private owner–with a little help from the County’s taxpayers. But at least the rates decreased and should remain affordable.

NACo Steering Committee

Tom Abinanti serves as a member of the National Association of Counties’ (NACo) Health Steering Committee which makes recommendations on national health policies and goals.

The committee focuses on many issues related to health care delivery and financing, including: indigent care, health care for the uninsured, Medicaid, Medicare, long-term care, local public health programs, mental health, substance abuse, mental retardation and developmental disabilities.

Ultimately, the measures this committee supports will be lobbied for in Congress and the White House. NACo is the only national organization that represents our county government in this manner.