Andrew Cuomo arrived at the New Paltz office of the Department of Environmental Conservation about 3:00 Monday afternoon, riding on a motorcycle with longtime girlfriend Sandra Lee seated behind him. Surrounded by a motorcade of police — half a dozen of which were also on motorcycles — the governor was completing a ride up from Long Island to promote the breast cancer screening bill he’d signed into law there beforehand. Billy Joel, who was on hand to begin the ride at Citi Field in Queens, was no longer in evidence when the governor hit New Paltz, his final stop to promote the new law.
Cuomo explained that when he and Lee learned she had breast cancer, the doctor remarked, “Luckily, we caught it early.” A year later, Lee is cancer-free, but Cuomo said that a question which plagued him the entire time was, “Why should it be a matter of luck? That never left my mind.”
The new law addresses three problems Cuomo said he identified by asking women in treatment what had kept them from getting screened earlier, which radically improves the chances of survival. He was told that screenings are too expensive, inconvenient to schedule and complicated to navigate. The new law addresses those concerns by mandating that insurance companies pay the full cost of screenings and follow-up tests, requires 200 hospitals statewide to make screenings available evenings and weekends and calls for a web portal and live navigators available by phone to walk women through the process. “There are 15,000 new cases every year,” the governor said, and he hopes that this law will increase early detection and consequently the success of treatment.
Cuomo took no questions from the press at this stop, and remarked about riding through the rain that arrived later on in New Paltz. He and Lee left in a car, having apparently spent more than enough time on a motorcycle for one day.