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Workforce, Medicaid, infrastructure: HANYS’ 2022-2023 state budget testimony

HANYS President Bea Grause, RN, JD, delivered the following remarks at the joint legislative hearing of the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committees on health Tuesday, Feb. 8.

 

Good afternoon Chairs Krueger, Weinstein, Rivera and Gottfried, and committee members.

I’m Bea Grause, president of the Healthcare Association of New York State.

Thank you for this opportunity to speak today.

We are now approaching the third year of COVID-19. Healthcare workers on the front lines, hospitals, health systems and post-acute care providers are still struggling with this pandemic to this very day.

Without federal support, New York’s hospitals and health systems collectively would have recorded a negative 10% operating margin in 2020. Thanks to federal support, that margin was still negative 1.4% — the worst in two decades.

Some have pointed out the hospitals that ended 2020 in the black. That was the goal of the federal support and what we all should hope for, as this funding helped to preserve access to care for New Yorkers.

Unfortunately, the pandemic did not end in 2020. That federal Provider Relief Fund has run dry, with no funding left to help hospitals recover from delta, omicron or any future wave.

With that as the backdrop, I turn to the state with our urgent requests.

  • First, workforce.
    Providers in New York and across the nation are facing a staffing crisis. The executive budget includes several investments and policy actions that would begin to address these very real workforce challenges in both the short and long term. We have to take action now. I urge you to include in the final budget measures that would begin to provide immediate relief, by recognizing providers from other states and allowing health professionals to practice at the top of their training or license. HANYS also encourages the Legislature to address equity and operational challenges in the executive proposal to provide bonuses to frontline healthcare workers.
  • Second, Medicaid.
    While the state has expanded eligibility for Medicaid and increased covered services, which we greatly appreciate, provider reimbursement has remained flat. Medicaid reimburses hospitals just 61 cents for every dollar of care provided. I urge the Legislature to go significantly further than the executive budget, by restoring a meaningful and persistent Medicaid trend factor to hospital and nursing home payment rates on a go-forward basis. Proposals regarding Medicaid payment rates and supportive funding must benefit all of New York's hospitals and health systems statewide.
  • Third, infrastructure.
    Through prior capital funding, the state has recognized the tremendous importance of modernizing and transforming New York’s healthcare system. HANYS urges the Legislature to support the proposed healthcare capital funding included in the executive budget.

We are very grateful to Gov. Hochul for advancing proposals in this surplus budget year in all of these areas, and we urge the Legislature to build upon them.

We hope that you will continue to make meaningful, sustained investments that address both the acute challenges caused by COVID-19 and the chronic challenges our healthcare system has faced for years, such as workforce shortages. I encourage you to review the summary document that’s included with my written testimony, as that includes HANYS’ position on major healthcare issues in the budget, such as telehealth, payment parity and access to coverage.

Thank you for your continued partnership.

For more information: Bea Grause’s written 2022-2023 state budget testimony, inclusive of HANYS’ detailed summary of the state fiscal year 2022-2023 budget.