The scribbled, cryptic doctor's prescription note is headed toward eradication in New York, where the nation's toughest paperless-prescribing requirement takes effect March 27th. Instead of handing patients slips of paper, physicians soon must electronically send orders directly to pharmacies for everything from antibiotics to cholesterol pills to painkillers. There will be some exceptions. Otherwise, prescribers face the possibility of fines, license loss or even jail. E-prescribing has surged nationwide in recent years. Every state now allows it, but only New York has a broad requirement that carries penalties. The requirement is meant to fight painkiller abuse, reduce errors and expand a practice that doctors and patients often find convenient. However... physicians say digital scripts can present roadblocks for some patients and doctors shouldn't have to fear punishment over a prescription format.
The eduction budget just approved by the state Senate includes about 800-million dollars more than Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed... and, elminates the so-called Gap Elimination Budget. That from State Senator Cathy Young, who has played a key role in crafting the spending plan, which now goes to reconciliation with the Assembly. The Olean Republican says getting rid of the GEA was one of the Senate Republican Majority's main goals. Young says Senators agree that the Gap Elimination Adjustment needs to be taken out of the budget law... other-wise... it could be used again like Democrats did when they had the majority several years ago. She says their 1.7-billion dollar increase over last year also boosts basic, or foundation aid. Young says they'll be working to at least hold onto the increase they approved. The Assembly has proposed a 2.1-billion dollar increase.. while the governor has proposed a 1.1-billion dollar hike. Young says she heard from several local school superintendents... school board members and teachers during deliberations. She chairs the Senate Majority's Finance Committee.
A Jamestown man has been arrested for allegedly driving while intoxicated when his car crashed into a ditch early last Friday morning in the town of Charlotte. State Police in Jamestown say they arrested 19 year-old Joseph Ramos after finding his car in the ditch just before 5 AM on Route 60. Troopers say Ramos appeared to be drunk... and, had a small bag of marjuana in his possession. He was later given a breath test... and, was found with a point-16 BAC... twice the legal limit. Ramos was charged with DWI, unlawful possession of marijuana and unsafe backing. He was issued appearance tickets for Charlotte Town Court.
State authorities say a worker at a center in western New York serving the disabled has been charged with choking an individual who was receiving services. New York's Justice Center prosecutors say the worker at The Rehabilitation Center in Olean faces four misdemeanor charges. Officials say he is accused of grabbing a disabled person by the throat and squeezing on February 25th. Authorities say 51-year-old Ahmad Burney pleaded not guilty last week in Olean City Court and was released. He was fired from his job and is due back in court April 5th.
The dialogue continues between Dunkirk and Fredonia officials over the possibility of having a joint police facility. We have learned that two meetings have been held involving the mayors, and police chiefs from both communities and indications are the discussions will continue. Dunkirk Police Chief David Ortolano says he is optimistic about such a facility since it would benefit both departments. While a village committee is looking at nearly a dozen sites for a separate location for its police department, Fredonia Police Chief Brad Meyers says a joint police facility with the city is still in the mix. While there may be some drawbacks, Meyers says there are a lot of positives. Meyers says he can see a building possibly going up someplace the two departments will share before he retires. He adds that both departments already work well together. Both departments are currently facing space constraints.
A union has sued the state Thruway Authority challenging increased health care costs for about 15-hundred retirees. The Civil Servie Employees Assocation says CSEA says the authority told retirees in December that effective April 1st they would have to pay 6 percent more in personal contributions to their health care premiums. The union says that fails to honor the obligations to retirees covered by contracts between CSEA and the Thruway. President Danny Donohue says retirees have earned the right to retire with the benefits promised during their years of service. The Thruway Authority declined to comment on pending litigation.
The mild winter and low energy prices have combined to make more home heating aid money available for New Yorkers. The state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance says there's still time to apply for the Home Energy Assistance Program. The program will accept applications through April 8th. So far this winter... 1.3 million low- and middle-income households have received help from HEAP to heat their homes. Eligible households can receive a one-time benefit of up to $625 this winter depending on income, household size and heating source. Last winter... 1.48 million households received benefits through the federally funded program.
No snowpack, no problem. As an exceptionally warm winter winds down, snowpack is scant around many Northeast mountains. Spring runoff from that snow is normally crucial for maintaining water levels on rivers and reservoirs... but, late-winter rain is doing the job of melting snow in many areas so far. In an average February... the watershed around New York City's six reservoirs in and around the Catskill Mountains has about 50 billion gallons of water trapped in the snowpack. This February it had zero gallons. But, the Catskill and Delaware watersheds did have a few big rainstorms. So by this week, the reservoirs were close to 95 percent full, which is higher than normal for this time of year.