Monday, July 18, 2011

NYC Council Speaker Quinn and Health Committee Chair Maria Del Carmen Arroy Issue 1st Ever NYC Health Report: BigAppleRx Discount Card Made Available

From the long list of legislation and accomplishments, including a new discount prescription card made available called "BigAppleRx", it is obvious Speaker Quinn and Health Committee Chair, Councilwoman Maria Del Carmen Arroyo have been working overtime to make NYC a healthier city.

Please do reviews the information below and please do forward to anyone you know that might need some assistance when purchasing pharmaceutical products.


July 15, 2011

Dear New Yorker,

We're very pleased to share our first-ever NYC Council Health Report with you.

In this report you'll find important information about some of the work the City Council has been doing together with our many partners in the community to help make New York a healthier city and home. Our goal with these reports, which we aim to issue on a regular basis, is to keep you and our constituents better updated and involved in these efforts as we continue to work together to address the important health issues facing our city today.

If you have any questions about the initiatives described below, please feel free to contact Joe Mancino in the Council's Human Services Division at (212) 341-0357 or

Thanks and have a great weekend and a healthy, enjoyable summer!

Christine C. Quinn
NYC Council

M. C. Arroyo
Chair, Health Committee
NYC Council

Prescription Drug Discount Cards – ­Now Available

As a result of legislation passed by the City Council, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) has developed a new prescription drug discount card program called BigAppleRx.

Cards are now available for FREE to all residents, regardless of age, income, or immigration and health insurance coverage status, and can be used to purchase eligible prescription drugs at a reduced price from thousands of pharmacies around the city and country. (It cannot, however, be used in conjunction with another type of prescription drug discount or other insurance coverage for the same transaction.)

HealthTrans Access, one of the nation's largest discount drug programs, is helping to administer the program at more than 2,000 pharmacies in NYC and more than 58,000 pharmacies nationwide.

To get your very own free BigAppleRx discount card, go to If you don't have access to a printer, you can write your card number down or have the information texted to your mobile phone. Cards can also be picked up at many local businesses, community organizations, city agencies, and City Council offices around the five boroughs. For a list of locations, click here.

Information about prescriptions and drug prices can also be found on the BigAppleRX website. To locate a pharmacy near you that accepts this card, use the BigAppleRx pharmacy locator tool at You can also call 311 or 1-800-697-6974 to speak to a customer representative who will help you locate a pharmacy closest to you. The BigAppleRx card also has an i-Phone application that allows consumers to use the card right from their phone by locating the nearest participating pharmacy.

Extension of City's Ban on Smoking Goes into Effect

Our extension of the City's ban on smoking went into effect last month – just in time for the summer!

Thanks to Local Law 11 2011, sponsored by Council Member Gale Brewer, New Yorkers and their families can now enjoy more smoke-free parts of the City, including parks, beaches, pools and many other designated outdoor areas.

While we hope smokers will respect the law and not light up in these public areas, Parks Department officials are authorized to enforce the law and may issue fines of $50 per violation.

To report a violation, please flag the nearest parks officer or call 311.

City Council Holds Hearing on Two Bills to Improve the Health & Wellbeing of NYers

This past month, the City Council held a public hearing on two important bills that will contribute to the health, equity, and economic and environmental well-being of all New Yorkers.

One of the bills, Proposed Intro. 248-A, sponsored by Council Member Lewis Fidler, would create a free, searchable, public database of city-owned property and features of that property, including whether it's suitable for urban gardens.

The other bill, sponsored by Council Member Inez Dickens, would require city agencies to report a comprehensive set of metrics related to the City's food system. This data will help us measure progress on the 12 goals outlined in our FoodWorks plan for improving NYC's food system.

New Tools in Fight Against Bed Bugs

We are continuing our efforts to stamp out bed bugs in NYC.

This past March, the City Council and the Bloomberg Administration unveiled a new web-based bed bug tool to provide New Yorkers with accurate, comprehensive and up-to-date information on how to prevent, recognize, and treat beg bug infestations.

This new website ( came out of recommendations from our Bed Bug Advisory Board, which found that the lack of educational materials and dissemination of inconsistent information were impeding safe and effective ways to prevent and control bed bugs.

Additionally, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) have created a comprehensive new model for responding to bed bug complaints in residential properties. Under this new protocol, landlords of buildings where persistent bed bug infestations are found will be required to hire a licensed exterminator to inspect and treat the infested unit and surrounding apartments.

If your landlord refuses to address a possible bed bug infestation inside your home, please call 311 immediately to schedule an inspection with HPD.

City Council Adopts Fiscal Year 2012 Budget

Finally, this past month the City Council and Mayor Bloomberg reached an agreement on the City's budget for Fiscal Year 2012 (July 1, 2011 - June 30, 2012).

While we had to make some extremely tough choices this year, we were able to pass a responsible budget on time – one that protects funding for the most vital services without jeopardizing our city's future.

A few highlights are listed below:

Education - Thanks to an agreement between the Council, the City, and the UFT, there will be no teacher layoffs in the upcoming fiscal year.

Public Safety - This year's budget agreement not only keeps fire companies open, but it also protects funding for our city's most recent class of police recruits, who were officially sworn in this past month as the newest additions to New York's Finest.

Childcare - Substantial restorations were made to childcare and after-school programs.

Libraries – We successfully restored $61 million in funding to the New York, Brooklyn and Queens library systems. This should prevent any closures and lay-offs and ensure that most, if not all, branches remain open at least five days of week.

Parks - Public pools will remain open all summer as a result of restorations to the City's Parks Department.

Health - We also provided substantial funding for a number of important health and mental health initiatives around the City, including asthma control; screening and education for breast, colon and ovarian cancer; child health clinics; family planning; rapid HIV testing; obesity prevention; autism awareness; and mental health services for older adults.

Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who took part in this year's budget process. All of the phone calls, letters, petitions and rallies truly paid off.

You can read more about this year's budget agreement on the Council's website at

Addressing PCBs in NYC Public Schools

Earlier this year, the City Council held a hearing on PCBs in public schools.

These man-made chemicals, which are found in old light fixtures inside many of our city's schools, are considered probable carcinogens by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency and are suspected of causing a number of critical health problems.

As part of our ongoing effort to keep students safe and healthy, we're very pleased to report that this year's budget agreement with Mayor Bloomberg also includes $30 million in capital funding over the next three years to help speed up the removal of PCB's from city schools. This funding will allow us to more quickly eliminate the effects of PCBs in city schools, keeping our students safe and reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the five boroughs.

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