by | Mar 23, 2023 | Press Releases

61 Organizations Representing New York Patients Urge Majority-Leader Stewart-Cousins and  Speaker Heastie to Include the Ounce of Prevention Act in the State Budget 

(Albany, NY) — Today, an extraordinarily diverse group of 61 organizations representing patients, religious leaders, labor organizations, people who are older, have disabilities, immigrants and people of color and more sent a letter to Majority-Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Carl  Heastie calling on elected officials to include the Ounce of Prevention Act (S1366 (2023) | A8441A (2022)) in the final State budget. The bill would reform the state’s Hospital Financial  Assistance Law, enabling much-needed support to low-income families burdened by medical  debt.

The letter is part of a united effort to end medical debt in New York state.

Six percent of New Yorkers have been put into collections over medical bills, with numbers  much higher for people of color in parts of the state. Nonprofit hospitals have sued more than 54,000 patients over medical debt they are unable to pay.

Many hospitals fail to offer meaningful financial assistance to their patients, despite receiving  $1.1 billion dollars annually in state and federal funding to provide uncompensated care. Still  others secure these funds despite failing the New York State Department of Health’s annual  audits of their financial aid policies.

The Ounce of Prevention Act would add crucial patient protections to the existing Hospital  Financial Assistance Law and increase the number of patients eligible to receive discounted  care.

A copy of the letter can be found here.

“This is a critical moment in New York’s medical debt crisis,” said David R. Jones, President and  Chief Executive Officer of the Community Service Society of New York (CSS). “State leaders have the opportunity to provide relief to thousands of New Yorkers struggling with medical debt by  acting now to reform Hospital Financial Assistance in the final State budget.”

“Governor Hochul recently stated that everyone deserves the dignity of affordable, quality  health care,” said Rebecca Garrard, Legislative Director at Citizen Action of New York. “Making  Hospital Financial Assistance accessible would make this a reality for thousands of New Yorkers,  particularly New Yorkers of color who are disproportionately impacted by medical debt.”

“Reforming Hospital Financial Assistance is key for making New York a more equitable state,” said Kyle Giller, Staff Attorney for New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG). “Medical  debt has long-term consequences for New Yorkers’ health, well-being and finances – particularly for people of color across the state. State leaders must move quickly to include the  Ounce of Prevention Act in the final budget.”


The Community Service Society of New York (CSS) has worked with and for New Yorkers since 1843  to promote economic opportunity and champion an equitable city and state. We power change  through a strategic combination of research, services, and advocacy to make New York more livable  for people facing economic insecurity. By expanding access to health care, affordable housing,  employment, opportunities for individuals with conviction histories, debt assistance, and more, we  make a tangible difference in the lives of millions. For more information on CSS go to

Citizen Action of New York is a grassroots membership organization with seven regional chapters  across New York State. We work on issues important to our communities, including fair elections,  equitable school funding, housing for all, environmental justice, and possibilities not punishment.