April 2004

Health Care

From the NYS Assembly • Sheldon Silver, Speaker
Richard N. Gottfried Chair, Health Committee
Family Health Plus is improving access to health care...

"...[U]ninsured, working New Yorkers will now have access to quality healthcare through this innovative program. Not only will Family Health Plus bring welcome relief for those who are eligible, but it will provide critical revenue to the clinics and hospitals who currently provide uncompensated care to the uninsured."

- Dennis Rivera, President, 1199 National Health and Human Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

But the governor’s cuts will make it harder to get.

"The proposal to increase the assessment on hospitals, nursing homes and home care, combined with a continued failure to improve workplace conditions for nurses, will exacerbate the shortage of nurses at the bedside."

- Gail Myers, Senior Associate Director for Political and Governmental Relations, New York State Nurses Association

"There is a crisis in health care that arises from a critical and worsening imbalance between the demands being placed upon the health care system and the resources available to meet those demands. A $200 million sick tax on hospitals and a $17 million sick tax on home care are extremely damaging. Whether it is for emergency services, cancer treatments, or delivering babies, the care that we provide to people who come to our facilities should not be taxed."

- Daniel Sisto, President, Healthcare Association of New York State

"This budget proposal places a bull’s eye on the backs of Medicaid beneficiaries, a group whom many see as least powerful to make their voices heard."

- Laura Caruso, Coordinator, Medicaid Matters New York, a statewide coalition of over 100 health care organizations

"Upstate’s hospitals are not able to keep pace with increased labor costs, and the cost of new technology. The governor’s proposed new tax will make it exceedingly difficult for Upstate hospitals to continue to provide quality care."

- Gary J. Fitzgerald, President, Iroquois Healthcare Alliance

"You are talking about a Medicaid population that is poor, and to go and eliminate services as if they could pay out of pocket….that’s very troubling."

- Anne Erickson, Executive Director, Greater Upstate Law Project

"The executive budget has put our backs to the wall…It negatively impacts all New Yorkers, as services will be cut back or pharmacies will close in more towns, more villages and more undeserved areas of this state."

- Craig M. Burridge, Executive Director, The Pharmacists Society of the State of New York, Inc.

Governor spends at least $28.8 million to tout health care programs on TV, then cuts benefits

Administration stalls for three months before releasing advertising costs

You have probably seen the television commercials featuring the governor touting various health care programs and taking credit for them. What you don’t hear about is how his budget proposal imposes deep cuts for those same programs he has spent millions touting. In fact, the governor’s spending plan would cut and tax health care by a mind-boggling $1.5 billion – including a $429 million “sick tax” on hospitals, nursing homes and home health care providers.

It’s also troubling that the administration stalled for three months before releasing just how many taxpayer dollars were spent to make it appear the governor supports these programs. The Assembly first requested that information back in January. The New York State Health Commissioner herself promised on Feb. 3 that she would provide the Assembly’s Insurance Committee chairman with the figure. She didn’t, and it took a threat of a subpoena to find that the governor admits to spending at least $28,841,300 over a five-year period to promote programs he is now cutting.

Governor’s budget cuts health care programs

In fact, not only is the governor proposing cuts for health care programs like Family Health Plus and Child Health Plus – which bring health care to the uninsured – he actually opposed the Family Health Plus program when it was first proposed by the Assembly, favoring far more limited benefits. He also wants to cut Medicaid by $1.1 billion, costing New York 34,600 jobs and taking away quality health care coverage from those who need it most. The governor’s budget proposal throws up obstacles in the way of New Yorkers who are trying to get the health care they deserve.

The governor’s budget:

  • chops $60 million from the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Program (EPIC) – resulting in the loss of pharmacy access and hardships for seniors
  • increases out-of-pocket costs for working families and reduces coverage for about 77,000 low-income children
  • eliminates coverage for dental and vision services and increases out-of-pocket costs for working individuals insured under Family Health Plus
  • cuts $8 million from community-based organizations that help uninsured people apply for and keep their health insurance coverage through Child Health Plus and Family Health Plus by overcoming hurdles such as language barriers
  • cuts $53 million in funding from the Early Intervention program that helps disabled children from birth to 3 years of age, and imposes family share payments and waiting periods for coverage

The governor’s cuts could result in the loss of 34,600 jobs and further exacerbate the state’s nursing shortage, not to mention jeopardize patient care. But you won’t see him on TV talking about his proposed cuts.

Governor’s local Medicaid relief 10 years late and nearly $1 billion short

Local governments have been pleading for relief from escalating Medicaid costs – something the Assembly has long supported. The governor has proposed a 10-year takeover of long-term care – saving localities less than 1 percent of their Medicaid costs.

It is good news that the governor has finally seen the need to ease the Medicaid burden on local taxpayers. Had the governor not repealed in 1995 the enacted plan to reduce the local share of Medicaid costs, and had he supported the Assembly’s proposals regarding subsequent expansions to the Medicaid program without a local share, local governments could have saved nearly $1 billion to date.

Assembly Majority protects health care for New Yorkers

Last year, the governor tried to cut health care by $2 billion before a bipartisan legislative coalition beat him back. When it comes to our health and the health of our loved ones, the Assembly will make the right choices that provide the care our families need.

The Assembly Majority has consistently worked to improve health care for all families in New York, and we’ll continue the fight to ensure the governor’s budget is not balanced on the backs of New York’s most vulnerable citizens.

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