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Capitol Watch: State review board to probe maternal deaths

August 3, 2019
FILE- This Jan. 15, 2019 file photo shows the New York state Capitol in Albany, N.Y. A newly created state commission will examine the deaths of women during childbirth, part of an effort to understand why black women in New York are three times more likely to die than white women during or immediately after childbirth. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)
FILE- This Jan. 15, 2019 file photo shows the New York state Capitol in Albany, N.Y. A newly created state commission will examine the deaths of women during childbirth, part of an effort to understand why black women in New York are three times more likely to die than white women during or immediately after childbirth. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — In New York state government news, a new review board will investigate each time a woman dies during childbirth in the hope of addressing stark racial disparities in maternal mortality.

Meanwhile, a new report from organized labor says a state tax credit for film and television production is helping the economy and the state’s bottom line.

Here’s a look at stories making news:

MATERNAL DEATHS

A newly created state commission will examine the deaths of women during childbirth, part of an effort to understand why black women in New York are three times more likely to die than white women during or immediately after childbirth.

Legislation creating the Maternal Mortality Review Board passed earlier this year and was signed Thursday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat. The panel will include medical practitioners and public health officials and will review the cause of death of each woman who dies during childbirth in the state. Because of medical privacy concerns, the board’s meetings will not be open to the public.

In addition, the legislation creates an advisory council to gather recommendations from community leaders, researchers and others about ways to reduce deaths. Both the review board and the advisory council will report their findings to the state’s Department of Health.

A report on maternal mortality issued earlier in the year recommended better hospital training on racial disparities and new training programs for midwives. The researchers looked at two years of maternal death statistics and found that nearly two-thirds of the women who died received cesarean sections.

Despite advances in medicine, maternal mortality has risen in New York and across the nation in recent decades. That’s counter to most developed nations where the rate has consistently fallen.

There were 19.6 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births In New York between 2014 and 2016, compared with 15.4 deaths per 100,000 births between 2001 and 2003. Nationally, the rate for 2014 was 18 maternal deaths per 100,000 births. Overall, New York is ranked 30th in the nation

While New York’s overall rate is slightly worse than average, its racial disparity is slightly better. Nationally, African American women are nearly four times more likely than white women to die during or immediately following childbirth.

Cuomo called the racial gap “a national crisis.”

“With the creation of this expert review board and advisory council we are tackling the problem head on,” he said.

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TINSEL TOWN TAX BREAKS

New York state continues to benefit from a tax credit for film and television productions based in the state, according to a new analysis conducted by unions that back the incentive.

The report found that film and television productions receiving the credit pumped $3.9 billion into the state’s economy in 2017 and supported more than 48,000 jobs. State and local governments, meanwhile, took in $780 million in taxes and revenues from productions.

The state makes up to $420 million in credits available each year to encourage productions to be based in New York. Movies and shows can receive a credit equal to up to 30% of eligible production and post-production costs. Productions based outside New York City are eligible for even bigger credits.

Since the credit was created in 2004, production jobs are up by 55% in the state, an increase that’s 4.5 times the increase seen in the economy overall.

Despite the push to move productions upstate, most are still in New York City, with four in five jobs supported by the tax credit based in the city.

The report was commissioned by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the Teamsters, the Writers Guild of America East, the Directors Guild of America and the Motion Picture Studio Mechanics union.

Critics of the tax credit have called it a giveaway to big corporations who likely would base many productions in New York anyway.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 31 states and the District of Columbia offered film or TV tax credits in 2018.

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COMING UP

The state Senate will host a series of public hearings on the ongoing opioid abuse crisis starting with an event Friday at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx. More hearings are planned for central New York, Buffalo, Staten Island, the Hudson Valley, Long Island and Albany.

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