To a Healthier New Year

By Assemblyman Will Barclay (R-Pulaski)

New York was recently named as one of the most prepared states in the nation in the event of a health emergency. We were one of eight states to achieve this distinction, according to national organizations that annually compare state public health policies and performance. We have people in the public and private health sectors collaborating effectively to provide a safe state and establish our state as an example for others. It takes many hours of planning and hard work to earn this type of designation.

Time and planning must also be invested in achieving and maintaining personal health. Those who exercise, schedule regular screenings and take heed of warning signs have a better chance of living a longer, healthier life. Listed below are a few of the more common illnesses families may have to face. With vigilance in personal preparedness, some may be avoided or treated properly.

Breast Cancer: Good news for New York residents. I have heard from many who have expressed concerns with the recent U.S. Preventative Services Task Force suggested changes in mammography guidelines. Fortunately, in New York State, our laws require insurance companies to pay for mammography with the same frequency as before. New York law requires health insurers cover mammograms at any age, when recommended by a doctor for women who have a prior history of breast cancer or whose close kin has a prior history. The law also requires insurance companies to cover the cost of a mammogram every two years, or more frequently in doctor-recommended cases for women aged 40 to 49, and annually for women aged 50 and older.

Diabetes: Diabetes is not only common and serious, it is also a very costly disease.

According to the American Diabetes Association, the annual cost of diabetes in medical expenses and lost productivity rose from $98 billion in 1997 to $132 billion in 2002 to $174 billion in 2007. The average yearly health care costs for a person without diabetes is $2,560; for a person with diabetes, it costs $11,744. Much of the human and financial costs can be avoided with proven diabetes prevention and management steps. The New York State Department of Health has become proactive in diabetes prevention. Many resources are available for individuals and health care providers on its website, which can be found at

Mental health: According to the State Office of Mental Health, 20 to 25 percent of people will experience mental illness within any year and 25 percent will experience mental illness during their lives. Mental illness and disorders impact families, workplaces, schools and the military. In October, the State Department of Mental Health put forth its Statewide Comprehensive Plan 2009-2013, The plan talks about recovery, resiliency, and transformation as a means of achieving improved mental health. Through this plan, OMH encourages a framework for living a good life despite illness and loss. The plan states that we are living in challenging times, with a mature mental health system, few new resources, tremendous stressors, and great diversity in local needs. At this site, you may find resources that may help you and your family work toward a healthier and happy new year, despite economic and personal challenges.

If you have any questions or comments or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.