New York takes steps to establish a first-in-the-nation statewide paid prenatal leave

January 23, 2024

As part of her annual State of the State address, which also laid out her legislative priorities for 2024,[1] New York Gov. Kathy Hochul unveiled her plan to expand the state’s Paid Family Leave Policy, which paves the way for the state to be the first in the nation to establish statewide coverage for prenatal care.

The highlight of her proposed six-point plan is the inclusion of 40 hours of paid leave for pregnant mothers to attend prenatal doctor’s appointments. In support of this action, Hochul cited studies that indicate access to prenatal health care is highly correlated with improved health outcomes for both mothers and infants. Studies also find that it decreases the likelihood of death during childbirth.

This initiative is among various other proposals that are aimed at combatting the maternal and infant mortality crisis, including:

  • expanding access to doula care by standing order,
  • eliminating co-pays and other out-of-pocket costs for those enrolled in the Essential Plan or Qualified Health Plans,
  • creating new oversight mechanisms to avoid unnecessary cesarean sections,
  • addressing maternal mental health and postpartum depression, and
  • allotting funding for measures aimed at reducing the risk of Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths.

These new proposed measures are in addition to Hochul’s recent efforts to secure 12 weeks of fully paid parental leave benefits to more than 80% of the state’s workforce, as well as the extension of postpartum coverage for up to a full year after the end of a pregnancy for New Yorkers enrolled in Medicaid and Child Health Plus.

New York is one of the nation’s leaders when it comes to paid family leave under its Paid Family Leave Policy. Currently, New York mothers also have state short-term disability (after a waiting period) and federal leave (which is unpaid) available to them prior to the birth of a child—although any leave taken prior to the birth of the child is subtracted from the time available after the child’s birth, which can be used for healing and bonding with a new child. PIA will continue to monitor the progress of this initiative and update its members should there be any further developments.

[1] New York Could Become First State to Offer Paid Leave for Prenatal Care

Danielle Caswell, Esq.
PIA Northeast

Danielle Caswell joined PIA Northeast as associate counsel in the Government & Industry Affairs Department in 2023. She earned her bachelor’s degree from New York University and her law degree from Brooklyn Law School with a particular focus on intellectual property, information, and media law. Prior to joining PIA, Danielle was an associate at a law firm in New York City where she focused primarily on intellectual property and entertainment-related transactional and litigation matters.

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