April 2, 2011
By Richard N. Gottfried, Assembly Health Committee Chair
The new state budget enacted this week includes major cuts to a broad range of vital programs in health, education, human services, and almost every area of public services. However, it is about as good as could be done, considering the financial, political, and legal realities.
We faced a $10 billion deficit and a state constitution that empowers the governor to force the Legislature to either pass his budget bill as is or shut down state government. Yet we were able to restore funding in many critical areas. If there had been the political will to continue the income tax surcharge on people earning a million dollars or more, many cuts would have been avoided.
Building on the state’s successful experience over the past decade with Medicaid managed care, savings will be realized by gradually moving the most high cost patient groups from fee for service Medicaid into various forms of care management groups such as the elderly receiving nursing home or home care services, and people with serious mental illness. The Assembly made sure important consumer protections in these and other areas were added.
As chair of the Assembly Health Committee, I am pleased that the health portion of the budget includes many important reforms that will protect and improve the quality and accessibility of health care while helping to control health care costs. Three pieces that were my initiatives are truly national landmark legislation: the accountable care organization demonstration program, the statewide medical homes program, and the all payer claims database.
Governor Cuomo and his administration, Health Commissioner Nirav Shah, the Medicaid Redesign Team, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and Senate Health Committee chair Kemp Hannon all worked to shape these reforms.
More information on the budget can be found on the Assembly’s budget website: http://www.assembly.state.ny.us/2011Budget/ under “Final Budget Bills.” Health appropriations are in the Aid to Localities Budget Appropriation Bill A.4003-E. Health budget legislative changes are in A.4009-D. For all the actual budget legislation, go to: http://www.assembly.state.ny.us/2011Budget/?sec=finalbills or http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us and enter the bill number.