April 1, 2009

Silver: State Budget Protects Vital Health Care Services With $1.3 Billion Restored

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Assembly Ways and Means Chair Herman D. Farrell, Jr., and Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried announced the final state budget reverses some damaging cuts in health care, restoring approximately $1.3 billion to protect the most vulnerable patients and ensure working families have access to quality health care. In addition, the 2009-10 budget begins permanent health care reimbursement reforms and investments that will lead to $1.6 billion in savings this year and billions more in future years.

"Though we are in the midst of the worst economic crisis in recent history, we fought to protect the vital health care facilities and programs that ensure all New Yorkers have access to quality health care," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "This budget provides crucial funding for seniors needing access to affordable prescription drugs, home health care and assisted living programs, and worker retraining programs for skilled health care workers."

"Hospitals and nursing homes are New York's most important allies in combating sickness and disease, as well as ensuring the needs of our elderly population are met," said Farrell (D-Manhattan). "The Assembly health budget restores millions of dollars to New York's health care facilities by rejecting $381.6 million in Executive cuts to hospitals and $195.6 million to nursing homes."

"We've worked hard to protect access to health care and financial viability of our health care system. None of the choices were easy," said Gottfried (D-Manhattan). "We've also supported the important investments in primary care and health care reforms advanced by Governor Paterson that will mean better health for New Yorkers and a stronger health care system."

The Assembly made substantial changes to the hospital reimbursement system proposed by the Executive, and made significant restorations for academic medical centers and primary care hospitals. The budget also restores $49.9 million to the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) program - which is designed to lower prescription drug costs for seniors with fixed incomes - and restores $2.8 million to the Medicaid program to restore "wrap around" coverage for drugs denied by Medicare Part D. In addition to these EPIC and Medicaid restorations, the budget rejects $30.5 million in additional reductions to pharmacy benefits and programs and accepts the following proposals: The Early Intervention Program (EIP) offers a variety of free therapeutic and support services to infants and toddlers with disabilities or developmental delays. To ensure these children and their families receive needed services and treatment, the budget rejects all proposed changes to EIP - including changes that would have exempted children with certain speech-only delays from participation, and established parental and provider fees for participation. The budget also provides investment dollars for the enhancement of lead poisoning prevention activities, including increased monitoring of blood lead levels in children to help prevent and mitigate the harmful effects of lead exposure.