Jones plans to focus on health care and broadband access next year
In a recent announcement, Assemblyman Billy Jones, D-Chateaugay, said that he will prioritize easier access to health care and broadband internet services to rural communities during next year’s legislative session.
“New York’s rural communities have long dealt with unique struggles that continue to receive insufficient attention from the state government,” Jones said. “Rural health care providers suffer from high operating costs and a lack of state aid, while access to broadband in rural communities is hampered by unnecessary fees and bureaucratic roadblocks. I’ll always fight for legislation that addresses and alleviates these issues for the health and safety of North Country families.”
According to information provided by the Office of Assemblyman Jones, travel and delivery reimbursement rates for rural home health care providers do not adequately cover the costs of the services, as travel times are generally longer than they would be in larger cities.
Jones’s proposed bill would amend this by increasing the Medicaid reimbursement rate for rural home health care providers to cover actual transportation costs.
“Current state law does not allow fire departments to recover costs from providing emergency medical services, forcing many to stop offering these lifesaving services due to the increased cost,” Connie Mandeville, Communications Coordinator for Office of Assemblyman D. Billy Jones, said. “To remedy this, Jones has sponsored legislation that would allow fire departments to recover these costs. Similarly, in order to help EMS agencies have greater access to funding opportunities, Jones sponsored a bill that would classify emergency medical services as essential services.”
According to a report provided by the NYS Comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli, 19.3% of North Country households receive unreliable access to broadband.
“In an increasingly virtual world, it’s critical that all New Yorkers have access to broadband internet services not only for entertainment, but for job opportunities, school assignments and doctor’s visits.” Jones notes.
To remove potential hurdles to improved rural broadband access, Jones is cosponsoring a bill that will prohibit fees for the use and occupancy of the state right of way in an agreement with a fiberoptic provider along with introducing a currently pending bill that would prohibit charging these fees for fiberoptic broadband projects funded by the federal government.
According to Jones’s Office, fiberoptic providers are the only utilities that are required to pay these additional fees.