Dignity of Funerals Upheld, Oral Medications to Treat Cancer Covered with New Laws

A legislative column by Assemblyman Will Barclay (R,C,I—Pulaski)

Military funerals cannot be disrupted by demonstrators in New York, thanks to a new law which I strongly supported. The legislation came about after a small group of protesters began picketing military funerals. According to media reports, members of the Westboro Baptist Church protested at military funerals to express their belief that military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan are God’s punishment for U.S. tolerance of homosexuality and a sign the nation’s destruction is imminent.

The church members’ right to demonstrate was upheld by the Supreme Court early this year on First Amendment grounds. It’s bad enough that anyone decides to use funerals as a place for such demonstration, let alone the funerals of those who have died for their country. Families affected by this group not only had to endure the grief associated with the loss of their loved ones, but the disrespect of unwelcomed demonstrators telling them their family members’ deaths had anything to do with their warped agenda. Fortunately, we have now crafted a law in New York that protects grieving families from having to contend with this type of protest, while not impeding people’s First Amendment rights.

The law states that such demonstrations cannot take place one hour before or following a military funeral. Also, municipalities will be required to establish a permit process for demonstrations involving 12 or more people at funerals and memorial services of veterans or veterans’ family members.

Anyone found to have intentionally organized and conducted a demonstration within 1,000 feet of a funeral service without a permit shall be fined up to $500 for a first offense. The fine increases to $1,000 for a second violation and to $2,000 for a third violation. It’s unfortunate we have to pass laws like these in the first place. One would hope all fellow citizens would have the common decency and respect for those who have fought and died for their country.

Oral Chemotherapy Drugs to be covered

I’m pleased to report that oral chemotherapy treatments will be covered under health insurance plans with a new law. Oral treatments allow patients to undergo chemotherapy by taking a pill, rather than by the traditional intravenous or injected manner. This oral treatment can be taken by a patient, at home in the same manner as a prescription drug. Because it was administered orally, insurance companies classified this treatment as a prescription drug. As a result, the patient did not get the treatment covered as a traditional chemotherapy treatment and had to pay for the drug as though it were an average prescription drug, which was very costly. Traditional chemotherapy treatment is usually covered under the major medical benefits and once the deductible is met, the treatment is 100% covered.

The law requires this type of oral treatment to be classified in the same manner as traditional intravenous or injected chemotherapy and, therefore, allow patient access to this preferred alternative, and potentially less costly treatment. Nine other states – Texas, Oregon, Indiana, Vermont, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Colorado – and the District of Columbia have enacted similar laws, and 20 other states are considering similar legislation.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office. My office can be reached by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185. You can also friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.