March 2001
View Points 2001

From the New York State Assembly Black Square Sheldon Silver, Speaker
Richard N. Gottfried, Chair, Committee on Health

Assembly Budget Proposal Improves Health Care for Children and Families

Nothing is more important to our families’ well being than quality, affordable health care. That’s why the Assembly Majority’s budget proposal ensures that New York’s children and families receive the best medical care possible.

Making sure New York’s children have access to affordable health care

The Assembly Majority has a long-standing commitment to make sure our children get the care they need to grow up healthy and reach their full potential.

That’s why we created and have continually improved the highly successful Child Health Plus program, which provides health care coverage for children under the age of 19 who have no health insurance and are not eligible for Medicaid coverage.

Our budget proposal raises the income eligibility for Child Health Plus so a family of four with a gross annual income of up to 300% of federal poverty level or $52,950 would qualify. By raising eligibility levels, the Assembly will expand health care coverage to 37,000 more children.

There are no co-payments for services received under Child Health Plus and, depending on income, families pay either no contribution at all or a minimal monthly amount for coverage. The program covers a wide range of services –– from physical exams, immunizations, x-rays and lab tests to dental and vision care and medical equipment –– allowing working families without health care coverage to rest easier knowing that they can afford the best health care for their children.

New York’s low-income families depend upon Medicaid to get the services they need to stay healthy. For that reason, the Assembly plan restores the Governor’s cuts to Medicaid –– including Medicaid health coverage to legal immigrants, who should not be denied access to the health care services that their hard-earned tax dollars support.

Our plan will similarly raise the income eligibility limit for family planning benefits and the Prenatal Care Assistance Program –– to 300% of federal poverty level or $52,950 for a family of four –– allowing more women access to prenatal care and helping to keep mothers and their newborn babies healthy.

Continuing the fight against AIDS

In New York State alone, there are over 50,000 people living with AIDS, and another 170,000 living with HIV. Tragically, the rate of

infection has continued to grow among women and children, and has taken a disproportionate toll on minority communities.

While new drug therapies have made it possible for many individuals with AIDS to live longer, healthier lives, the need for services to assist those with AIDS –– such as counseling, medical respite and home-delivered meals –– continues to grow. Community based services also provide programs that help HIV families plan for the future care of their children, and offer support to children who lose a parent or sibling to HIV.

Despite this need, however, the Governor’s budget proposes eliminating $7.9 million in funding for essential AIDS-related services.

The Assembly’s plan restores the Governor’s cuts and adds $17 million in new funding for programs which provide education, outreach and support services for those with AIDS. A substantial portion of this funding will be directed to establishing services in minority neighborhoods which have been especially hard hit by the AIDS crisis.

To help patients and their families understand and work with the health care system, our budget adds $500,000 for the Managed Care Consumer Assistance Program. This program provides the health care consumer with support and assistance in navigating the often complex rules and regulations associated with managed care.

Maintaining the Assembly’s commitment to keeping health care affordable and accessible

The Assembly Majority is committed to making sure all New Yorkers have access to quality, affordable health care.

In addition to providing increased funding for programs that will keep our families healthier, the Assembly budget also seeks to restore funding for nursing homes and home health care services, and rejects the Governor’s cuts to the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) program, which provides seniors with affordable prescription medication.

As this year’s budget negotiations proceed, we urge the Senate to join us in budget conference committees to work out an agreement that maintains a strong commitment to the health, well-being and independence of New York State’s working families.

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