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February 11, 2009 News Headlines

House and Senate Reaching Agreement on Final Economic Stimulus Legislation

Media reports have indicated that a tentative agreement on a conference agreement was reached between House and Senate leaders this afternoon. At press time, details of the tentative agreement were not available; however, the package reportedly includes approximately $87 billion for the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP). That amount would result in federal relief for New York over 27 months of approximately $12 billion. The House could vote on the agreement as early as tomorrow with the Senate to follow.

HANYS has weighed in with members of the House and Senate conference committee on key health care provisions contained in the legislation in favor of the strongest provisions for hospitals and health systems. These provisions chiefly include maximization of the temporary augmentation of federal support for the Medicaid program (FMAP), funding for health information technology, extended and expanded moratoria on harmful Medicaid and Medicare regulations, and improving access to health insurance coverage.

A copy of HANYS’ letter to the conferees is available online. Further details will be provided to members on Thursday. Contact: Susan VanMeter


Academic Medical Centers and Teaching Hospitals Go on the Record

Academic medical centers and teaching hospitals from across New York State came to Albany on Tuesday to participate in a Graduate Medical Education (GME) advocacy day hosted by HANYS, Greater New York Hospital Association, Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council, and the other allied associations. The group was united in its message that New York should be proud of its position as a national leader in physician training. They also highlighted GME in New York as a major economic engine, and one that must be maintained especially during the current economic downturn. Hospital representatives focused on the Executive Budget provisions regarding GME, hospital inpatient rebasing, the proposed cuts and taxes, and the need for medical malpractice reform. They also recognized that while primary care and outpatient care need investment, they expressed concerns with the Governor’s proposal to take money from hospital inpatient care and provide a reduced amount of that taken back into outpatient care, resulting in an overall reduction in funding.

Significant concerns were raised with the Executive proposal to redistribute private payer funding for GME under a new indigent care pool methodology. This proposal would erase the longstanding principle that private payers must contribute to GME. In addition, the proposal is highly redistributive and would cause many hospitals to sustain huge financial losses, while some hospitals would lose these funds entirely. Concerns were also raised related to the Governor’s Medicaid hospital inpatient rebasing proposal and proposed associated cuts and taxes.

HANYS members highlighted their role as major employers and providers of inpatient and outpatient care in their communities, especially as service providers to Medicaid and uninsured populations. The group also raised concerns about issues associated with medical malpractice, the need for tort reform, and the relationship to physician recruitment and retention. Contact: Julia Donnaruma


Criminal History Record Checks Converting to Electronic Fingerprints

DOH is converting its Criminal History Record Checks (CHRC) fingerprinting requirements for potential employees of nursing homes and home care agencies to electronic “Livescan” fingerprints in early June. DOH has contracted with L-1 Identity Solutions as the statewide vendor for this new process. HANYS has met with DOH to discuss how this major change in CHRC processes will impact health care employers that must comply with the CHRC regulation.

HANYS has learned major process changes will include employers scheduling fingerprinting appointments for potential employees at vendor locations in each county, a provider mechanism to make electronic payments for fingerprinting either through credit card or establishment of “drawdown” accounts, and a need for organizations to examine internal procedures to assure their hiring and employment processes fit with electronic fingerprinting timelines.

HANYS is scheduling an Issues Forum Webcast for members to hear more about electronic fingerprinting changes and to dialogue with DOH staff about member concerns. Details about that Webcast will be shared with members soon. Contact: Debbie LeBarron


NYSHealth Announces New Request for Proposals: Strategies to Contain Health Care Costs in New York State

The New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth) has announced its newest request for proposals (RFP), Strategies to Reduce Health Care Costs in New York State.

With this RFP, NYSHealth seeks to identify and support projects and analyses with the goal of substantially containing health care spending in New York State. NYSHealth is not seeking unrealistic “magic bullets,” nor does it want modest initiatives that would have only a small impact on health spending. This RFP is an opportunity to develop, test, and measure the impact of cost containment strategies in New York State and advance policymaking in order to move New York State closer to universal coverage.

Applicants are required to submit initial inquiries to NYSHealth to determine whether their project or analysis fits the funding criteria. Inquiries should not exceed three pages in length and must use the NYSHealth Initial Inquiry Outline. Please e-mail inquiries to cost@nyshealth.org by 4 p.m. on Friday, February 27, 2009. Contact: Debbie LeBarron