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Governor Delivers Grim State of the State; HANYS Urges Member Boards to Pass "Medicaid for Medicaid" Resolution

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Governor David Paterson’s State of the State Address today offered no solace to health care providers or to anyone else, for that matter, looking for relief from proposed cuts and taxes. The solemn tone and grim content of the Governor’s address emphasized the troubled times that New York is facing and the hard choices that must be made to balance the state budget.

In his address, the Governor urged legislators to support cuts and taxes contained in his 2009-2010 Executive Budget proposal; in total, the Governor’s budget would eliminate more than $2.5 billion in health care funding, with more than $1 billion in hospital cuts alone.

The Governor reiterated his call to Congress to act on a comprehensive stimulus package that would include critical funding to states. HANYS is leading efforts at the state and federal levels for an increase in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) as part of the package. This would result in billions of Medicaid dollars coming into New York at a time when this funding is needed most. When this increase occurs, HANYS is advocating that FMAP resources must be dedicated to Medicaid as intended, and used to mitigate the Governor’s proposed Medicaid cuts. HANYS is encouraging the boards of member facilities to pass a resolution urging the Governor and Legislature to ensure that any additional federal Medicaid dollars be dedicated to health care and to offsetting the Medicaid cuts and taxes being proposed in the Executive Budget (see related stories below).

The Governor reiterated his goal to enroll every eligible New Yorker in one of the state’s public health insurance programs and unveiled a proposal to expand access to health insurance for young adults, ages 19 to 29, by enabling them to remain on their families’ insurance plans. He said he would pursue a federal waiver to provide coverage to an additional 226,000 adults under the Family Health Plus program. The Governor also asserted that the state “incentivize(s) the wrong care” and emphasized the need to shift the focus to primary and preventive care, referencing a new, comprehensive five-part plan to reduce obesity.

“Governor Paterson’s State of the State Address made the right diagnosis of the health care system’s problems, but he has ordered the wrong prescriptions to treat them,” commented HANYS’ President Daniel Sisto in a press statement. “From a practical standpoint, it is impossible to reconcile the Governor’s stated health care priorities with the health care portion of his 2009-2010 Executive Budget proposal. His budget would eviscerate health care services funding, making all of the health care goals he established even harder to attain than they are today.”

Mr. Sisto noted that health care services have already been cut twice this fiscal year by more than $1 billion. The Governor’s 2009-2010 budget plan would cut health services by another $5 billion over the next two years.

Mr. Sisto questioned how, while financially starving the health care system, the Paterson Administration intends to tackle childhood obesity; fund primary care physicians and services; while protecting emergency room care, birthing centers, surgery, and inpatient care.

“How will nursing homes and home health care providers continue to serve vulnerable populations?” asked Mr. Sisto. “How will we have the resources and staff necessary to meet the demands associated with the Governor’s own laudable efforts to provide health insurance to more New Yorkers? How will we meet the demand of thousands of new Medicaid beneficiaries and uninsured individuals who are the victims of the economic meltdown? All these questions remain unresolved, and no speech, however well intended and crafted, will provide the answers. These are the issues we will take to the Legislature as the new session begins.” Contact: William Van Slyke

Published January 7, 2009