Magnarelli: Quality Health Care for Seniors is a Right Not a Privilege

July 28, 2006

During the 2006 legislative session we accomplished many goals to protect health care for seniors in Onondaga County.

Funding our hospitals and nursing homes

By persevering over the governorís objections and providing $21.5 million in restorations and new spending for crucial health care and aging programs, the legislature protected hospitals and nursing homes, so they will be there for us when we need help.

In Onondaga County we fully restored the governorís cut of $5.4 million to local hospitals. The legislature then voted to override his health care vetoes which would provide an additional $16.1 million for nursing homes in Syracuse. The release of these funds will insure the ailing Van Duyn Home and Hospitals and other facilities in Onondaga County will not only continue their operations, but provide care for our loved ones.

Disclosing Drug Company Gifts to Doctors

The Assembly passed legislation to disclose marketing tactics that drug companies use to sell their prescription drugs, so you can think twice before buying high-priced medicine because of the publicity (A.5574 awaiting Senate approval).

Currently drug companies spend billions of dollars to promote drugs: an average of $13,000 per physician a year to influence doctors. The Assembly bill would outline perks pharmaceutical companies give to doctors, hospitals, clinics and medical personnel in a free annual consumer guide, published by the state Department of Health and distributed by the Office of the Aging and local agencies.

Getting the best price for prescription drugs

The Assembly fought for lower drug costs by establishing a Prescription Drug Assistance Program which I supported (A.6336-B awaiting Senate approval). The proposal would direct the state to collectively bargain for reduced drug prices for seniors; Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) insurance program participants; gap coverage, including the ďdoughnut holeĒ gap in Medicare Part D; those without health insurance; and health care facilities.

Under this bill the state would negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs and lower the cost of prescription drugs, saving money for both state health plans and Medicaid and saving you money on the prescriptions you need.

I am committed to providing the best quality health care to Onondaga County Seniors. Thatís why I fought the governorís ill conceived cuts to health care and nursing homes and I supported legislation that discloses drug company gifts to doctors and getting the best price for prescription drugs.