February 2005 Health Care:
Pataki’s cuts to Medicaid and Family Health Plus

From the NYS Assembly · Sheldon Silver, Speaker
Richard N. Gottfried · Chair, Health Committee
What the experts are saying...

"We can’t just slash and burn and hope only the strong survive."

- Jennifer Cunningham, Executive Vice President, SEIU Local 1199

"This is probably one of the worst budgets I’ve ever seen in terms of the impact on Medicaid, for hospitals alone."

- Kenneth E. Raske, President, Greater New York Hospital Association

"The governor’s proposed health care cuts and taxes are hazardous to New Yorkers’ health... Imposing cuts and taxes will further cripple hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care providers and that, in turn, threatens the millions of New Yorkers they serve annually."

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

"These cuts will have a detrimental effect on an industry still reeling from decades of cuts and operating in an environment that continues to worsen."

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

"These proposals all serve to drastically reduce access to vital health care services for the state’s poorest populations. Ultimately, this can only result in higher medical expenditures rather than savings."

- Janet Haebler, Director of the Practice and Governmental Affairs Program, New York State Nurses Association

"To suggest that removing podiatrists from clinics will save the state any money, let alone the estimated figure of $800,000, is patently ridiculous. Private health plans are recognizing that podiatrists offer both clinical and cost-saving benefits and the state should do the same."

- Richard Altwerger, Legislative Chairman, New York State Podiatric Medical Association

"We’re expected to do what we’ve always done and more, but we are expected to do more with less money."

- Jon Schandler, President and Chief Executive Officer, White Plains Hospital Center

Drastic health care cuts aren’t what the governor advertised
Working families, sick children to suffer under Pataki’s budget proposals

The governor’s budget proposal to slash vital health care funding for some of New York’s most vulnerable residents is appalling - especially when you take into consideration that he spent at least $28 million over a five-year period to advertise programs he’s once again trying to cut.

Family Health Plus, one of the programs that the governor touts in his television commercials, provides coverage to 470,000 previously uninsured adults. Yet, now that the governor has encouraged people to sign up for this vital program, his budget pulls the rug out from under them.

Under his proposed budget, health care cuts and taxes would add up to nearly $3 billion. Meanwhile, successful programs like Family Health Plus - which brings health care to the uninsured - would essentially be eliminated.

Governor proposes slashing health care services for vulnerable

His plan imposes or drastically increases Family Health Plus co-payments, including a tenfold increase from $25 to $250 for inpatient hospital care, $75 for outpatient surgery, $50 for emergency room visits - just to name a few. As Family Health Plus shrinks and the ranks of the uninsured swell, the hospitals will be confronted with more individuals showing up in the emergency room and ultimately faced with more bad debt and charity care. The result would be layoffs of skilled health care providers, hospital closures, longer waits for medical care and higher insurance costs.

To make matters worse, while some families are being forced to decide between putting food on the table and buying the prescription drugs they need to live healthy, normal lives, the governor has proposed raising co-payments for prescription drugs.

Meanwhile, the governor’s cuts to Family Health Plus would eliminate vital services for our families, including dental, vision, medical equipment, home health services, hospice, alcohol and substance abuse, mental health, and short-term rehabilitation. The proposed cuts to preventive care like adult dental and mental health coverage could significantly increase the cost of care in the long run. And his callous cut to hospice care would be yet another blow to those seeking some measure of comfort from terminal illness. New York’s working families simply can’t shoulder such a burden for the care they need.

Cuts disguised as reform

Local governments have been pleading for relief from escalating Medicaid costs. Last year, the Assembly helped enact a full state takeover of Family Health Plus to reduce the local share of Medicaid, saving local governments $200 million this year and twice that in 2006.

The governor, however, takes a different approach. By cutting Family Health Plus to the bone, the governor has left only the skeletal remains to take over from local taxpayers. At the same time, he ties cuts on health care patients and providers to additional Medicaid relief for local governments. And he’s done so in an appropriations bill, knowing full well that under a recent court ruling limiting the Legislature’s budget powers, the Assembly cannot enact the takeover without enacting all of his cuts. The governor then cynically hails these measures as reform.

These cuts come after the governor spent millions of taxpayer dollars promoting Family Health Plus - and himself - in glitzy TV commercials. 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 health of New York’s working families.

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