February 2003

Focus on Health Care

From the NYS Assembly • Sheldon Silver, Speaker
Richard N. Gottfried, Chair, Health Committee

What health care experts are saying:

"These cuts will bankrupt hospitals across the State and diminish hospital care for all patients, whether they are insured by Medicaid or not. Doctors and nurses will be laid off and hospitals will close, to the great detriment of the communities they serve."

- Kenneth E. Raske, President of the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA)

"The proposed budget would not only cut deeper into Medicaid reimbursement for health care services, it also imposes a ‘sick tax’ on the most vulnerable New Yorkers — those who are receiving hospital, nursing home, and home care."

— Daniel Sisto, President of the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS)

"We realize the State is in a very difficult financial situation, but playing a shell game with funding — give a little over here and take away a lot over there — is a disservice to the citizens of New York."

— Phyllis Wang, President of the New York State Association of Health Care Providers, Inc. (HCP)

"The proposed budget will begin the dismantling of home care. In effect, the Governor’s proposals will reverse the state’s long-standing commitment to home and community-based care and threaten the health of the public."

— Carol Rodat, President of the Home Care Association of New York State (HCA)

"Under the proposed cuts, hospitals will be forced to cut back services and curtail essential programs; many nursing homes may be forced to close; home care services for New York’s homebound elderly and disabled may no longer be an option. Every healthcare provider will find it increasingly difficult to attract and retain qualified workers and the crisis in under-staffing will reach epidemic proportions."

— 1199 SEIU, New York’s Health & Human Service Union

The governor’s Medicaid Cuts will:

  • cut back on care in hospitals, nursing homes, home care and health centers;

  • leave more people uninsured;

  • make it harder for seniors to pay for prescription drugs; and

  • eliminate 48,000 jobs.

Governor’s shocking $2 billion cut to health care is the wrong choice

New York’s struggling economy is forcing everyone to make tough choices — but we can’t afford to make the wrong choices. The governor’s budget threatens the accessibility of quality health care by:

  • cutting Medicaid by $1.6 billion;
  • increasing Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage fees by 10 percent;
  • reinstating at a higher rate a 0.7 percent tax on hospitals;
  • imposing a 0.6 percent tax on other health care providers — like home health agencies and home care agencies;
  • reducing funding for family planning, rural health, Alzheimer’s services, HIV/AIDS services, and other programs; and
  • rendering more people uninsured by cutting Family Health Plus and raising the cost of health coverage for employers and individuals.

Cutting Medicaid and other health care spending by $2 billion is an obvious mistake that will force working families to pay more for health care and further stress health care providers who already face staffing shortages, high staff turnover rates and burnout.

The governor’s budget cuts and higher fees, along with the cost of new technology, disaster preparedness, prescriptions, and caring for the uninsured will create a crisis for health care providers — forcing hospitals, nursing homes, home care agencies, and health centers to lay off more workers and cut important programs to make ends meet.

When you take funding from a hospital, nursing home, home care agency or clinic — whether by cutting Medicaid payments or by leaving more patients uninsured — staff gets cut and services are stretched thinner. Even the wealthiest will get poorer quality. When that happens, some people will die.

Reducing the quality, accessibility, and affordability of health care

The governor’s proposals to cut Medicaid and raise taxes on hospitals and other health care providers could force these institutions to drastically reduce services and pass increases on to consumers in the form of higher out-of-pocket expenses or premiums.

In fact, the governor’s budget proposals could cause hospitals in New York State to lose roughly $595 million annually due to major Medicaid inpatient reimbursement rate cuts to hospitals and the tax on hospital revenues.

The Assembly has continually fought to provide hospitals and nursing homes with the funding and assistance they need in order to offer New Yorkers quality, affordable health care. In fact, just last year, we passed the Health Care Workforce Recruitment and Retention Act, which helps hospitals, nursing homes, home care providers and health centers attract and retain workers who care for our loved ones by providing additional financial support through the Medicaid rate system.

Making prescription drugs even more costly for seniors who need them most

The governor’s proposals seriously undermine the Assembly’s efforts to provide quality, affordable health care to New York’s seniors by proposing to raise EPIC fees 10 percent and cut EPIC reimbursements to pharmacies by 5 percent.

The Assembly has worked hard to provide seniors with affordable prescription drugs by expanding the income eligibility levels for EPIC and simplifying the program’s fee structure, and we will fight the governor’s efforts to increase the costs for this important program.

Eliminating coverage for New York’s most vulnerable

Under the governor’s budget, an estimated 234,000 low-income children will lose Medicaid coverage, shifting the coverage to the Child Health Plus program. That means low-income kids with severe disabilities will no longer get the home care services they need that are covered only by Medicaid.

Further, according to the United Hospital Fund, 47,000 will lose Family Health Plus eligibility — greatly reducing access to the health care and prescriptions otherwise needed by New York’s most vulnerable citizens. In the history of publicly-funded health coverage in New York, no governor has ever before proposed cutting eligibility.

Everyone deserves access to quality health care and the Assembly has worked diligently to provide health insurance for all New Yorkers. However, the governor would rather raise taxes on health insurance companies, which will be passed on as higher premiums — forcing more employers and individuals to drop health coverage and leaving more people uninsured.

The Assembly continues to fight for quality, affordable health care

Over the past nine years, the governor has consistently tried to cut health care and Medicaid. This year, more than ever, the governor’s budget asks us to pay more for health care, and in turn, receive poorer care.

New York State’s unprecedented fiscal crisis will call on everyone to make sacrifices. When it comes to our health, or the health of our loved ones — we will not make wrong choices that compromise 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 working families.

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