Albany, Ny - September 16, 201 4 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed into law a bill that increases access to hepatitis C, or HCV, tests by allowing physicians and nurse practitioners to authorize registered nurses, when appropriate, to administer the test to a patient without the need for a patient-specific order. This is an expansion of a law signed by Governor Cuomo last year requiring hospitals, clinics and physician offices to offer HCV testing to all persons born between 1945 and 1965 who are receiving in-patient or primary care services.
“This new law knocks down unnecessary barriers that reduced opportunities for testing and for people to get the help they need,” Governor Cuomo said. “Simply put, the sooner a person is diagnosed with hepatitis C, the sooner treatment can begin, and I encourage all those who may be at risk to get tested as soon as they can.”
Currently, a registered nurse may offer the hepatitis C test but cannot administer the test without an order from a physician or nurse practitioner for the specific patient to receive a test. The new process – administering the test under non-patient specific orders – is the same that currently exists for administering certain immunizations, the treatment of immunization-related anaphylaxis, tuberculosis tests and HIV tests. This new law, (A9124-A, S6871), builds on existing practice that aims to identify all New Yorkers who are infected with the virus so that they can seek proper treatment by removing a significant barrier to receiving an HCV test.
Senator Kemp Hannon, sponsor of the bill, said, “This legislation builds off a law enacted last year which required Baby Boomers, born between 1945 and 1965, to be offered hepatitis C testing. The bill being signed today will ensure better access to this testing for those most at risk. Authorizing non-patient specific orders for hep-C tests removes existing barriers and allows more health care professionals to administer the test. I commend the Governor for signing this legislation into law.”
Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski, sponsor of the bill, said, “New York continues to lead the nation in fighting this silent epidemic. With one out of 30 baby boomers potentially infected, getting people tested is critical. In order for new treatments to be effective, they must be started before the disease progresses. This bill will streamline the hepatitis C testing process, ensuring that New Yorkers are afforded treatment as early as possible. I want to thank Governor Cuomo for his collaboration; signing this bill today continues our aggressive fight to eradicate this disease.”
More information on hepatitis C testing, including a directory of testing locations throughout New York State, is available here.