May 2003 Health Care
Budget Accord

From the NYS Assembly • Sheldon Silver, Speaker
Richard N. Gottfried • Chair, Health Committee
Steve Englebright • Chair, Aging Committee
Peter M. Rivera • Chair, Mental Health Committee
Health Care experts applaud Assembly’s efforts
"Legislative leaders Sheldon Silver and Joseph Bruno made the better choice. They passed a historic bipartisan budget that protects healthcare and our children’s education."
- Dennis Rivera, President, 1199/SEIU, New York’s Health & Human Service Union

"In the first four months of 2003, five hospitals across New York State announced closure plans. Through your fervent and decisive actions in restoring Medicaid funds and rejecting taxes on hospitals, you have demonstrated a deep understanding of the struggle health care providers face every day."

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

"Senator Bruno and Speaker Silver have demonstrated leadership by responding to a very difficult situation in a positive and creative manner. They deserve the support of all New Yorkers."

- Phyllis Wang, President of the New York State Association of Health Care Providers

"The 175 hospitals and nursing home members of the Upstate Health Care Coalition would like to express their gratitude and support for the members of the New York State Senate and Assembly who will vote to veto Medicaid cuts and oppose the hospital tax."

- Upstate Health Care Coalition

"We are pleased that the legislature has stepped forward to provide strong leadership and assure that services critical to the well being of many of New York’s citizens will continue to be offered."

- Dr. Michael Parker, Executive Director of Cerebral Palsy Associations of Greater New York State

"The Legislature hasn’t restored every dollar of every program, but they’ve done a good job of protecting New Yorkers with AIDS and other disabilities from the worst of the Pataki cuts."

- Michael Kink, Legislative Counsel for Housing Works

"Critics of the Bruno/Silver restoration agreement do not understand that health care is a tremendous economic engine in Upstate New York."

- Gary Fitzgerald, President of the Iroquois Healthcare Alliance

Legislature makes the right choice —
Passes budget that protects quality, affordable health care

New York’s struggling economy is forcing everyone to make tough choices — but Governor Pataki made the wrong choices by proposing a budget that threatens the health and well-being of our families. In fact, Governor Pataki called for over $2 billion in cuts to Medicaid and other health care spending when hospitals and nursing homes are already losing money and facing serious staffing shortages.

The governor’s cuts to Medicaid would seriously threaten the quality of care available for our families, in addition to jeopardizing 48,000 health care-related jobs and eradicating services. In a spirit of bipartisan unity, the Assembly and Senate passed a responsible budget that restores more than $1.2 billion in funding for Medicaid, public health, and Health Care Reform Act programs.

Fighting the governor’s wrong choices

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 receive a poorer quality of care. Our families depend on quality, affordable health care, and the Legislature’s budget ensures they get it.

The Legislature’s plan lessens the damage of the governor’s severe cuts by:

  • Rejecting the governor’s proposal to increase Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage fees by 10 percent;
  • Rejecting a "sick tax" on hospitals and other health care providers — like home health agencies and home care agencies;
  • Preventing the governor’s attempts to render more people uninsured by cutting Family Health Plus;
  • Restoring funds for vital county public health care programs that cope with disasters, and are on the front lines battling diseases like SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), and dealing with terrorist-related health emergencies; and
  • Restoring funding for AIDS programs that are vital to stopping the spread of HIV and helping individuals get the treatment and services they need

Protecting New York’s most vulnerable

To help some of our most vulnerable citizens, the Assembly has also restored $30 million to block the governor’s attempt to:

  • close three Psychiatric Centers (Elmira, Hutchings & Middletown);
  • consolidate two Mental Health Research Facilities (Nathan Kline Institute & New York Psychiatric Institute); and
  • eliminate OMRDD’s Institute for Basic Research.

These centers and research facilities attract much needed funding and provide reliable jobs for our families. The budget will ensure these facilities remain intact to continue their progressive research and provide New Yorkers with quality care.

Additionally, we’ve agreed to restore $26 million to fund the Supplemental Security Income cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA). SSI helps many elderly and disabled to make ends meet. Originally, the governor proposed defraying a portion of the state’s cost associated with the SSI program (the supplement) by taking the federal COLA away from SSI recipients, but the Legislature’s budget restores funding for this critical program.

Keeping seniors independent

To help seniors stay independent and remain an integral part of the community, the Legislature restored funding for Social Model Day and Respite Care and the Retired Senior Volunteer Program. The Legislature also rejected the governor’s proposal to consolidate the Community Services for the Elderly program with the Expanded In-Home Services for the Elderly program and restored them to their respective funding levels.

Seniors should be active members of our community, and restoring these initiatives will help ensure they enjoy a higher quality of life. We also rejected the governor’s proposal to take away health benefits from state retirees — keeping the state’s promise to these hard-working men and women.

Keeping quality health care a priority

There is no excuse for cutting health care programs like Medicaid that serve the most vulnerable. People depend on these programs, and Medicaid cuts put the health of our loved ones at risk. Our families’ health must not be compromised by staffing shortages, monetary losses, and closed health care facilities.

The Assembly and Senate have diligently joined together to ensure our families have access to quality, affordable care. The Assembly urges the governor to make the right choice by signing this budget into law.

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