After strong pushback from medical freedom and informed consent advocates, New York lawmakers on May 25 added a favorable amendment to legislation that threatens New Yorkers’ personal medical privacy.
The New York State Assembly Bill A279 requires all New York’s healthcare providers who administer vaccines to adults 19 or older to report all patients’ immunization status to the state-run database, which in turn will provide the data to the New York State Department of Health or the New York City Department of Health (for providers treating patients in New York City).
On May 25, lawmakers amended the bill (and renamed it A279A), by adding the following language which gives New Yorkers the legal right to opt out of having their vaccination status reported to the database:
“III) HOWEVER, NO REPORT SHALL BE MADE UNDER THIS PARAGRAPH IF THE PERSON TO WHOM THE VACCINE IS ADMINISTERED, OR A PERSON AUTHORIZED TO CONSENT TO HEALTH CARE FOR THE PERSON, OBJECTS TO THE PERSON WHO ADMINISTERED THE VACCINE, PRIOR TO THE MAKING OF THE REPORT.”
A279A will now go to the Assembly Rules Committee where it could be voted on any day. This is the last committee review before the legislation can proceed to a full vote on the floor and, if passed, become law.
As The Defender reported last month, a companion bill in the Senate, S75, also is moving through the New York State legislature. On May 11, S75 passed out of the Senate health committee along party lines, by a vote of nine to five, with all Republicans opposed.
On May 25, A279A passed in the Assembly Codes Committee on a 15-7 vote, primarily along party lines. Assemblymember Tom Abinanti (D) was the only Democrat to join the six Republican committee members who voted against the bill.
The addition of the opt-out to A279A is a win for advocates. However, it will benefit only those people who understand the implications of the state owning their healthcare data and vaccine status, and who exercise their right to refuse the recording of that data.
John Gilmore, co-founder of New York Alliance for Vaccine Rights, said:
“This personal health information could be commoditized for broader use and could lead to targeting certain populations who aren’t receiving vaccines with efforts to coerce compliance and increase uptake rates.”
Gilmore said a database of the type outlined by the two bills would be necessary to enforce any system of vaccine passports, such as the Excelsior Pass rolled out in New York in March. Calling the law “invasive” and another example of “government overreach,” Gilmore said it could lead to more government control and segregation.
If these bills become law, the personal health data of New Yorkers will be in the hands of healthcare providers and the organizations they work for. It will be up to individuals to request the opt-out provided by the amendment, and up to healthcare practitioners to follow the law by honoring the individual’s request.
Here’s how New Yorkers can help fight this legislation:
Call, email, Tweet and connect with members of the committee and ask them to “vote no” on this bill. A279A can’t proceed to a full floor vote unless it passes out of the Assembly Rules Committee.
Call and email your state senator and assembly person and ask them where they stand on S75/A279A. Find your state senator here and your assembly person here. Ask them if legislation goes to a full floor vote, will they vote no? Let them know why you oppose this bill.