NYS Funeral Directors Association announce Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) has signed into law a measure that will bring a fully modern, electronic death registration system (EDRS) to the entire state of New York. Such a system is already in place in New York City, while 43 other states either employ such a system or are actively developing one.
The Assembly passed the bill unanimously, and the Senate voted overwhelmingly (56-7) in favor in June. The bills were sponsored on our behalf by Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Orange Counties) and NYS Assemblyman Phil Steck (D-Albany/Schenectady Counties). NYS Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan) co-sponsored the legislation and was pivotal to its passage.
A top priority of NYSFDA for over a decade, the development and implementation of a system allowing electronic filing of death certificates will positively transform and streamline the way licensed funeral directors perform one of the central tasks the law requires: ensuring that each death certificate is completed and filed with the appropriate local registrar within the legally-required 72 hours following a person's death. The system is to be designed by the NYS Department of Health (DOH) in concert with all stakeholders and is slated to be fully functional by January 1, 2015.
Currently, death certificates are comprised of paper with carbon copy, requiring the use of a typewriter and manual filing. This includes the personal delivery of these official state records by funeral directors for signature, as well as extensive and costly travel by funeral directors to file the certificates. The labor-intensive nature of this process takes valuable time away from funeral directors time that will now be more appropriately used to serve the needs of those who have just lost a family member or other loved one. This process is also expected to save the state's small business funeral homes costs associated with this manual process.
Notably, this new law will also:
authorize the NYS DOH to design, implement and maintain a fully modern, electronic system (EDRS) for all counties outside the City of New York (which already operates its own EDRS);
allow for more accurate tracking and reporting of causes of death, especially in the event of a widespread disease outbreak or pandemic flu event, yielding a multitude of benefits from a public health and safety perspective;
be funded through a 'public-private partnership' between the State of New York and NYSFDA;
funeral directors will make a payment of $20 for each burial/removal permit issued;
this amount will not be charged to families, but will be a cost of business operations;
facilitate the collaboration among multiple death registration users - including funeral homes, hospitals and nursing homes, physicians, coroners and NYS DOH Vital Records;
save funeral homes thousands of dollars each year in travel time, personnel costs, gasoline expenses, and lost productivity (an average statewide savings of $9317 in 2013 for each funeral home);
eliminate the need to physically locate and wait for physicians to obtain signatures certifying to each death, thereby saving funeral directors and physicians much time and distraction from their prime duties attending to grieving families and patients, respectively;
reduce errors by electronically verifying the decedent's Social Security number through a matching process with Social Security Administration records;
promote uniformity in reporting death statistics to the State and Federal governments; and
enable faster death registration at NYS Vital Records, increasing turnaround time for families to obtain certified copies.