A First for NYC and the Nation

Yesterday, the New York City Council passed the Language Access in Pharmacies Act by a vote of 36 to 7, making it the first jurisdiction in the country to enact legislation ensuring that limited English proficient (LEP) individuals have equal and safe access to prescription medications.  We worked closely with Make the Road New York and the bill’s sponsor, Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, to draft the bill, negotiate its provisions and lobby for passage.  You can read/view articles about this in the Gotham Gazette, Channel 7 News, El Diario and the Daily News Blog.

The bill builds upon the agreements reached by the New York State Attorney General with major chain pharmacies in New York State in that it expands the number of pharmacies subject to stricter language access requirements (any pharmacy with 4+ stores), provides for fines and penalties in case of violation and does not expire after 2013, as the agreements do, among other things.

This is a huge victory for immigrant New Yorkers and for anyone concerned with public health, but we’re not quite ready to hang up our hats and call an end to the campaign.  There are a lot of things that the state regulates in terms of pharmacies (and that the city has no power over) that should be improved to ensure that LEP New Yorkers statewide are guaranteed equal access to prescription medications.  So, we plan to take our show on the road: from City Hall to Albany.  Stay tuned for more on these efforts and how you can get involved!

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