issues

Evolving Our Economy into a Post-Corona World

In addition to preserving the health of New Yorkers, Ann’s number one priority is developing jobs and getting people back to work in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Click here for Ann's plan to do so!

Mental Health

The onset of COVID-19, and a possible second wave, will result in a vast number of New Yorkers suffering from some type of emotional or mental trauma. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one-in-ten people have been or will be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at some point in their life.  The unfortunate reality is that this disorder does not discriminate based on age, race, gender, or life circumstances.

The Problems:

  • Every day, healthcare professionals are exhausting themselves on the front lines. Now more than ever, they face the ever-present fear of becoming infected themselves and losing their own lives. These frontline workers face daily stresses of caring for the vast numbers of patients coming into emergency rooms while maintaining the lives of those being kept alive in ICU’s, all in addition to threatened supplies of the equipment necessary to safely help patients. Furthermore, the tremendous emotional pain of witnessing the loss of so many lives, young and old alike, takes a devastating toll on their emotional health. The thought of this occurring again in the Fall without mental health support services is tragic.
  • Also at risk are our community’s first responders. Police officers, firefighters, and paramedics spend their days responding to the effects of this pandemic, putting themselves at a higher risk of contracting the virus. At the end of March, an NYPD official appearing on CNN estimated that over 15% of the force had the virus at that point, and many more contracted it after that. Members of law-enforcement are already predisposed to developing PTSD, with studies finding that over 30% of this group will be diagnosed at some point in their lives. The added mental trauma of this outbreak on our first responders is substantial, and we must have support services available in response.
  • Another vulnerable group is the adolescent population.  Under ordinary circumstances, adolescent depression and suicide rates are high. Now, they face added stresses of worries over themselves or their parents going into dangerous work situations. In addition, they are home alone using teleconferencing to complete schoolwork, missing many important milestones in their life and facing increasing concerns for what this virus' impact means for their future, both in the short-term and long-term.   
  • Non-essential workers who are not permitted to work and are quarantined at home, the elderly, many of whom are isolated with no ability to connect to the outside world and frequently suffer from depression, and parents struggling to get resources for their children with disabling conditions – all deserve help.
  • Domestic violence incidences have increased, meaning in-home violence is more frequent, severe, and dangerous. Throughout the world, there have been reports of an increase in abuse, especially in circumstances where some level of abuse has already occurred.
  • Therapists are struggling to bring online care to patients due to restrictions and reimbursement issues.

Even after a vaccine for the coronavirus has been developed and the population inoculated, the psychological and emotional anguish caused by COVID-19 will be felt for many years to come.

THE SOLUTIONS:

  • Strongly encourage both private and public insurance companies to include substantive mental health coverage for those affected by the coronavirus.
  • Develop Centers for Post-Traumatic Stress.
  • Establish an organized behavioral health disaster response; improve screening and assessment of traumatic stress and traumatic stress-related conditions. 
  • Provide critical support to the frontline healthcare workers who continuously put themselves at risk each day to protect us.
  • Provide mental health services for those in the community struggling with trauma, anxiety, isolation, and grief over the loss of loved ones.
  • Offer services for victims of domestic violence to help remediate the abusive situations. Hotlines, church groups, social service agencies should consider this population a priority.
  • Manage the anticipated surge in patients seeking mental health services by training primary care providers and personnel engaged in Employee Assistance Programs (EAP).  They can begin identifying and treating patients to avoid further mental distress.  By increasing the knowledge base of those in the health and allied health positions, we will increase the manpower necessary to provide lifesaving services.
  • Obtain financial support for these professional training programs by encouraging private foundations and corporations to increase funding for training programs as one of their priority initiatives.
How to Prepare for a Second Wave of COVID-19

Emerging from our initial struggle with COVID-19, it is clear that the United States was not prepared for a major health crisis.  There was no emergency plan to adequately handle the medical, economic, or food distribution problems that challenged the nation. Moving forward, many issues need to be addressed, including how to prevent future pandemics and how to deal with the economic fall out of this crisis. However, now we must immediately direct our efforts to a monumental topic that we anticipate facing in the coming months – a second wave.

The federal government’s lack of preparation put the states at a terrible disadvantage. New York, like other states, did not have access to testing or necessary equipment. Healthcare systems were overwhelmed, and the scarcity of personal protective equipment increased the dangers of caring for those infected. When healthcare workers are not supported, the virus wins.

The Problems

  • As of April 20th, there were over 9,000 reported cases of COVID-19 among health care professionals nationwide, causing a dangerous depletion in an essential workforce. With doctors, nurses, and EMTs sick, the treatment capacity of our hospitals had been reduced.
  • Scarcity of equipment for medical personnel – protective gowns and masks (PPE) – increase the dangers of caring for those critically ill.
  • Absence of a “medically safe” plan which would enable people to work at home and/or at their job sites.
  • Insufficient dollars devoted to medical research endeavors.
  • Lack of support for new and emerging issues that have resulted from social distancing, isolation, and quarantine.
  • Failure to respond quickly by federal government health departments and agencies.
  • Challenged front line local leaders have not received the appropriate financial and technical support necessary to safeguard their constituents.
  • Lack of global cooperation and communication.
  • Unavailability and lack of orientation to smartphones and tablets make telemedicine difficult for many of the most vulnerable.
  • Insufficient funds for non-profit organizations that provide food, home healthcare, housing, childcare, after school services, etc.
  • Lack of medical preparedness – vaccines, treatments, inaccurate comments by officials on the severity of the virus to the general public, etc.

In the case of a second wave, if immediate measures are not taken, the public will be forced to return to quarantine measures, which were enforced during the first wave without alternative plans available.

The Solutions

As we sort out and analyze the problems that confront us, we recognize that each state has differing needs and profiles.  Population density, commuter work patterns, a large elderly population, and recreational and social habits make New York unique to other populations across the country.  It would benefit New Yorkers to demand that Washington allocate an increase in federal funding based on New York’s share of federal taxes paid and to develop comprehensive plans to protect its residents against another crisis.

Starting immediately, we must;

  • Identify and develop an “army” of reservists and first responders to assist in a second wave. This new civilian workforce should include doctors, nurses, specialists who are not currently practicing, and individuals who are certified or can be certified in skills such as CPR, AED, EMT, basic and advanced life support, and adult first aid. These individuals will provide relief for medical personnel who have become exhausted and sick. When we are all prepared to work together, great things can happen. 
  • Establish a medical reservist database.
  • Use this situation as an opportunity to establish a “Think Tank” comprised of experts to explore the expanded use of technology for businesses and individuals.  Investigate the availability of technology for all economic levels of society.  If there is a second wave, we must make sure no one gets left behind.
  • Develop a “safe” plan to keep businesses, transportation, and government entities operational using social distancing, rotating shifts, teleconferencing, and distance learning.
  • Establish community and statewide stockpiles of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies for our medical institutions, first responders, and the public-at-large.  This equipment should also be made available to trade workers, enabling this group to continue working in both commercial and residential projects.
  • Prepare local factories and manufacturing centers to shift from their regular production lines to creating ventilators, PPE, hand sanitizers, and basic supplies.  This will ensure jobs and paychecks for many in the manufacturing industry.
  • Develop community-wide stockpiles of nonperishable and emergency dehydrated foods that will ensure that shelves never go empty. Local governments can collaborate with grocery stores and restaurants, designating them as fresh food distribution centers, averting food shortages. In order to facilitate shopping, we should expand telephone ordering from supermarkets to assist those not capable of using online services. We will simultaneously be supporting local businesses, guaranteeing a supply of food, and preventing wasteful destruction of unused food.
  • Utilize the Partnership for Healthy Cities COVID-19 Response Center – a new online platform for mayors, public officials, and public health practitioners.  The Center provides up-to-date scientific information through webinars, technical materials, and other assets. It is organized into areas of technical assistance: surveillance, epidemiology, communication, public health social measures, and legal policy guidance.
  • Set up a statewide comprehensive “Public Health Care System” comprised of hospitals, health facilities, nursing homes, and medical schools that can develop and implement plans for any healthcare crisis.
  • Garner support from private and public sectors for research and testing/tracing efforts that will combat any future epidemic. We must commit our energies to develop faster, accurate detection, diagnoses, prevention, and treatment of contagious diseases.
  • Create a central database of screenings and tracings of disease occurrences in which results can be stored and analyzed before they reach epidemic proportions.
  • Prepare now to increase the capacity to respond to non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic lung disease, cancer, etc. which will not interfere with the treatment of those affected by a contagious disease.
  • Encourage participation in American Red Cross classes that train people in the skills described above. In addition, create training programs at community centers and on academic campuses. EMTs and Paramedics can be further trained at local hospitals and in firehouses across the community. Developing and allocating funding is essential to support those who cannot afford to pay for these courses.
  • Enlist New York and Long Island private foundations and corporations to make funding available for training programs and for individuals needing scholarships to take medical courses.
  • Provide the elderly and at-risk populations, who do not have smartphones or tablets, with devices and training at deep discounts to make telemedicine more accessible. This will allow more individuals to connect with medical professionals safely and will also mitigate the effects of social isolation and medical emergencies.

While there may be a considerable cost for these solutions, the spending of funds is small compared to the number of deaths, mental anguish, and severe economic losses the country has sustained. If we had spent less than 5% of the defense budget for preparedness and testing, we could have considerably lessened the occurrence of the disease and the loss of life.

We have been ushered into a new era where Democrat and Republican designations hold less significance. With experts predicting a possible second wave, we must accept the urgency of planning NOW and refuse to politicize issues that will affect everyone throughout our state and our nation.

Healthcare

Now more than ever, it is critical that Long Islanders have access to quality, affordable health insurance. As a healthcare executive in hospitals and health and human service agencies for over four decades, Ann will utilize that wealth of knowledge to help your community.

Ann will fight for a more inclusive and cost-effective healthcare system to ensure that Long Islanders access to healthcare.

She will demand that medical insurance companies provide mental health services for healthcare personnel who have cared for patients in very stressful situations and the community-at-large afflicted physically, mentally, and economically by COVID-19.

Ann knows that we must be proactive rather than reactive. The COVID-19 pandemic blindsided us, and many thousands of lives were lost as a result. She will support the advancement of healthcare/medical innovations and research to get to the root causes of new and emerging diseases.

Please be sure to check back in for more on this issue as the campaign moves forward!

The Environment

On Long Islands South Shore, we face an environmental crisis that puts our health and safety at risk. The toxic Grumman-Navy Plume has contaminated our drinking water, jeopardizing the health of us all, and every day it expands by a foot. Past and present plans to clean up the Plume have been ineffective and costly. Millions of taxpayer dollars have already been spent on the cleanup, despite the fact that current NYS projections state that the current plan will take over 100 years to fully-clean the water supply.

There is more we must do. Ann will challenge the present management of the contaminated water supply on Long Island, especially from the Grumman-Navy Plume. We have to investigate alternative remedies to safeguard the consumption of our drinking water. Northrop Grumman and the Navy should be held accountable for their actions and forced to bear the costs of the cleanup that is unfairly being placed on the taxpayers.

In 2019, the New York State Legislature made history by passing the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act; the most ambitious law ever passed to combat climate change. As the Assemblywoman for New York's 9th District, Ann will introduce and support legislation that builds on the progress made in 2019. We must do all we can to protect our environment from climate change before it is too late.

Please be sure to check back in for more on this issue as the campaign moves forward!

Banning Employee Credit Checks

As we emerge from the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential we introduce legislation to help workers. As the economy strengthens, many will be considering new positions.  It is important we take steps to aid people in searching for jobs, developing their resumes, and strengthening their interview skills.  However, not to be overlooked is an issue that may create barriers in many getting jobs they need to provide for themselves and their families. This roadblock is that employers may request credit checks from applicants. This issue can have serious negative consequences on your job search.

Problems

  • Newsday reported that during the week of April 10th, 60,000 Long Islanders filed unemployment insurance claims. Additionally, during the four weeks beginning in mid-March, more than 175,000 Long Islanders had filed for jobless benefits.
  • As a sense of normalcy returns, thousands of Long Island residents will be initiating job searches. Many former employees who have been furloughed may not be rehired.  The new reliance on technology may result in redefined job skills and job openings. 
  • Presently, part of the job application process for many positions involves applicants providing background information, including credit reports.
  • Using credit reports in hiring decisions only makes it harder for people facing economic hardship to find a job and restore their personal finances.
  • Poor credit scores can result from many circumstances, including medical debt, unemployment, layoffs, missed payments, as well as credit bureau mistakes.
  • New York, unlike 11 other states, has not passed legislation prohibiting employers from using credit checks as part of their hiring practices.
  • If an employer checks credit reports when hiring employees, it must follow the legal requirements set out in the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA requires employers to:
  • get your consent before pulling the report;
  • give you a warning (along with a copy of the report received) if the employer plans to reject you based on the report, and;
  • give you an official adverse action notice if the employer does not hire you because of the contents of the report.
  • Unfortunately, a Federal Trade Commission study stated that as many as one in four consumers might have a “material error” in their credit reports. Studies have indicated that a majority of reporting errors that potentially diminish a consumer’s credit score is through no fault of the consumer.
  • Additionally, although employers must now receive consent before pulling credit reports, that has created a new problem in itself. If an applicant elects not to give consent, employers take that as an admission of poor credit and can choose not to hire that applicant anyway.

Today, because of the sudden financial turndown and the sharp increase in individuals losing their jobs, it is predictable that job applicants will have compromised credit histories. Prohibiting employer use of credit scores to screen applicants for jobs is absolutely imperative.

Solutions

  • The New York State Assembly must reintroduce and pass the 2013 Credit Privacy in Employment Act, or very similar legislation. The New York State Assembly passed the Credit Privacy in Employment Act (A.07056) in June 2013, but it failed to pass the Senate (S.03868).
  • The Assembly considered that the legislation was designed to restrict employer access to private credit information. When doing so, they noted that there is no objective evidence showing a correlation between an employee’s consumer credit report and their job performance or tendency to commit fraud.
  • This Act would apply to employers, employment agencies and licensing agencies.
  • The law would not apply to certain exempt positions such as law enforcement, professions involving high levels of public trust, or when federal or state laws mandate credit checks.
  • The New York State Senate must be encouraged to reintroduce a similar bill and to pass that legislation on a priority basis.
  • The State legislature should also consider passing legislation similar to that passed by New York City. In 2015, New York City enacted The Stop Credit Discrimination in Employment Act (SCDEA), which prohibits discrimination based on consumer credit history in employment.  Under the Act, it is unlawful for employers to request or use the consumer credit history of job applicants from being discriminated against by employers on the basis of consumer credit history.
  • The basis for the SCDEA legislation was centered on arguments that New Yorkers should be judged by their merit and qualifications in seeking employment. They should be afforded a chance to compete for a job based on their skills and qualifications, not three digits on a financial report. While applicants may have or had financial difficulties, they are no less hardworking, qualified, or trustworthy than anyone else. A person’s credit history does not reflect their past job performance or qualifications.
  • Assuming the legislation becomes law, provisions must be made to educate consumers, job applicants, employers, consumer credit agencies about the law, its enforcement, and penalties for non-compliance.
Women's Rights

We all know that the battle for gender equality at the national, state, and local levels is far from over. All of us must come together and create a more equitable world for everyone, eliminating gender bias in the workplace, healthcare, medical bias, and in the many aspects of daily life.

Ann spent 20 years at her executive search/employment firm striving for equal opportunities for women and supporting the re-entry of women into the workplace. She is committed to continuing this fight in Albany. She supports the adoption of the New York State Equal Rights Amendment, which bars discrimination based on gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, or expression. Ann will fight to close the pay gap to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work. At this time, job creation is important to ALL New Yorkers. Employers should be aware of the need to include qualified women in their hiring.

Ann’s experience in health and human services has made her a staunch advocate for universal access to healthcare, advancing medical research to accommodate the female body, and supporting the delivery of health services geared more toward women. She strongly believes in empowering and educating all women regarding the following conditions: heart disease, which causes deaths in one in every four women; breast, ovarian and cervical cancers; autoimmune diseases which affect approximately 8% of the population, 78% of whom are women; anxiety and depression, which affects about 7% of the population at some time in their life, with approximately 70% of those diagnosed with depression being women.

Additionally, Ann will protect women’s reproductive rights and work to guarantee that women have access to the services they need during pregnancy. She supports Planned Parenthood and the services it provides regardless of economic circumstances. Ann endorses the work New York State did in passing the 2019 Reproductive Health Act. She will continue as she had throughout her career to fight for increases in services and research for women’s health and mental health issues.

We can win the long battle for equality, and Ann will be leading the charge to make it happen.

Veterans

Ann Brancato has long been a supporter of and an advocate for the men and women who have fought for our country. Ann’s husband, John, served in the United States Air Force for over 30 years, retiring as a Colonel. Throughout her life, she has taken action to support this noble community, notably by volunteering to help support veterans and first responders with emotional and mental health issues by soliciting grant money to pay for health programs for Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD).

In Albany, Ann will continue to support those who have sacrificed to protect us. She will fight every day to ensure that veterans have the resources they need. She plans to utilize her vast experience in healthcare to create and support legislation that guarantees our heroes have access to the quality healthcare they have earned. She will also use her experience as a program developer and fundraiser to secure much-needed funding for VA medical centers and other programs designed to assist those who serve, and those who have served, and their families. Veterans sacrifice so much to keep our State and Country safe. Ann vows to do all she can to return the favor by supporting them in every way possible.

Constituent Services

The primary responsibility of an elected official is to serve and assist the constituents of their districts. Unlike other government representatives who sometimes act for their personal interests rather than those of their constituents, Ann has vowed always to put the interests of the more than 120,000 residents of Assembly District 9 above her own. Ann’s actions will not only reflect this commitment in Albany, but she will also be continually accessible to those living in the south shore of Long Island. She will accomplish this by being personally available as much as possible and by establishing an effective and responsive Constituent Service Team in her District.

Unlike the offices of some legislators, whose constituent service representatives are passive and less than effective, Ann has made this important service element an essential component of her responsibilities. She is committed to establishing and maintaining a robust constituent service team that will provide answers to inquiries on a wide variety of concerns, connect constituents to people and resources to resolve their issues and problems, and keep the District regularly informed about activities and legislation in Albany. Ann is committed to providing all residents in her district with active services and assistance.

Supporting those with Disabilities

With over 60 million people with disabilities in the United States and 30% of American households including someone with either a mental or physical disability, it is vital that we do everything in our power to advocate for and protect the interests of that community - especially amidst the public health crisis of our time. People with disabilities are vital members of our community, and we must guarantee that they do not get left behind.

While serving as the Director of the Divison of External Affairs at the International Center for the Disabled, Ann Brancato helped write the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA was enacted to provide people with disabilities equal opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency. Under federal and state law, it is illegal to discriminate against any person with an actual or perceived disability in many contexts of everyday life, including public accommodations, housing, employment, voting, and education. Despite these provisions, however, there is still rampant discrimination and mistreatment of people with disabilities in this country. According to the National Council on Disability, "People with disabilities make up approximately 12 percent of the U.S. working-age population. However, they account for more than half of those living in long-term poverty." Even with the ADA in place, the disability community tends to work low-wage jobs, often at part-time rates, that do not come with sick leave or other benefits.

Even more apparent is this discrimination now that we are amidst the national coronavirus pandemic. With resources running low, attention being put elsewhere, and communities of need being left behind, we must ensure that people with disabilities are being supported in the way that they need in the face of this crisis. Ann will fight to make this happen.

First, people with disabilities must be provided with the necessary guidance and support to protect them during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic- especially since some members of this community are part of the high-risk group for catching the virus. This support must include accessible means of accessing information made to the public via sign language, digital technology, captioning, relay services, text messages, and plain language. Additionally, financial support and aid should be provided to people with disabilities and their family members, given that this demographic is at a higher risk of poverty. Protecting Medicaid is also vital to protecting the disability community.

Another way in which we need to support our community members with disabilities is by being vigilant about highly specific challenges that they may face in this pandemic. Social distancing and self-isolation may be impossible for those who rely on others' support to eat, dress, and bathe. Limiting contacts with loved ones leaves people with disabilities totally unprotected from forms of abuse or neglect in care institutions. We must listen to experts who stress the need for reasonable accommodation measures for people with disabilities so that they can simultaneously stay safe from COVID-19, while also receiving the care that they need to thrive.

Education

The New York State Constitution guarantees the right to public education. Ann Brancato is not only committed to upholding and protecting this right, but to doing all she can to make sure every student can receive a quality education. A former educator and a mother to three children who attended public school, Ann understands the substantial positive impact that a quality public education can have on a student. That is why she will fight to bring additional funding into our public schools to ensure they have the resources they need.

With property taxes as high as they are on Long Island, Ann will search for alternative ways to increase funding for public schools without raising the taxes of middle-class people. She supports an increase in taxes on the very wealthiest members of society, billionaires and ultra-millionaires (anyone worth $50 million or more), to secure needed funding. This funding will ensure that New York State public schools have the money they need to provide students of all backgrounds a quality education without increasing taxes on an already struggling middle class in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a former adjunct professor at Fordham University and administrator at Bronx Community College, Ann is devoted to protecting our teachers. A good teacher can forever change the life of a child for the better, so we need to make sure they have the tools that they need to do so. Ann will protect their right to organize and fight to guarantee them the benefits they’ve earned, like protection through tenure and their pensions.
For students, there is more to be done so that all have the opportunity to pursue the life they want. Ann supports additional funding for BOCES and other vocational programs for students who would rather work in a certain trade than attend college. She also advocates for the creation of a school for the gifted and a school for the arts here on Long Island. Students who are gifted or talented in the arts should be afforded the opportunity to attend a school that best suits them without having to leave Nassau and Suffolk.
 
We live in a country that is supposed to guarantee equality of opportunity for all of its people. That starts with education. As the next assemblywoman for New York’s 9th district, Ann will do all she can to support and improve schools so that all students are given the opportunity to succeed.

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