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Health Care

CHNY is actively lobbying for the following bills related to Health Care:

A9604 (Gottfried) / S08937 (Brisport)

To authorize runaway and homeless youth to consent to their medical, dental, health and hospital care.

Under New York law, children under the age of 18 need the consent of a parent/guardian for most health care decisions. This makes sense when a minor is being appropriately cared for. Unfortunately, minors under the age of 18 who are living in a RHY shelter are in legal limbo. This is because they are living separately from their parent/guardian who often cannot or will not care for them, and the RHY shelter staff has no legal authority to act as the minor’s guardian. For most health matters other than reproductive and some mental health care, doctors are only allowed to treat minors without parental consent if the situation is considered urgent. This means that, technically under the law, a doctor cannot treat someone under the age of 18 for a minor medical problem, such as an infection, without parental consent, until the infection has turned into an emergency. This can place the child’s life in danger.

Additionally, transgender youth under the age of 18 without a parent to consent for them must wait until their 18th birthday before they can receive hormonal therapies. The True Colors Fund, a national organization dedicated to combatting LGBTQ youth homelessness, has recommended that New York State enact a law that would explicitly allow unaccompanied youth under 18 to apply for health insurance coverage and receive health care without parental consent. Transgender minors, who have received medical counseling and information, should not be made to wait for hormonal therapy that is crucial to their wellbeing, simply because they do not have appropriate parental care. CHNY is therefore seeking legislation that will afford youth under the age of 18 living in a RHY shelter or under the care of child welfare services the right to make medical decisions on their own behalf. We ultimately seek legislation enabling any minor who understands the effects and consequences of medical treatment to be able to consent to care on their own behalf.

This bill has passed both the NYS Senate and Assembly and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.