Times-Union: Will New York’s school health centers survive Medicaid change?

November 1, 2017

ALBANY — The number of New York public schools with on-site health centers has nearly doubled in the past two decades, with data showing benefits to both student health and academics.

But a looming change in the way these centers are reimbursed for Medicaid patients could cause them to scale back services or close altogether, officials warned Tuesday at a news conference in the Legislative Office Building.

State legislators and health and education leaders called on the governor to sign legislation that would halt the change, by granting school-based health centers a permanent “carve-out,” or exemption, from the state’s Medicaid Managed Care program.

“Forcing school-based health centers into Medicaid managed care plans will wreck a model that works,” said Assembly Health Chair Richard Gottfried, who co-sponsored the legislation with Sen. James Seward.

City & State: Legislation could provide more funding to adult home care providers in exchange for quality of care improvements

By Dan Rosenblum, October 19

Adult home care providers are urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a bill that would increase subsidies for those who house and care for seniors and adults with disabilities. Advocates for residents say any subsidy boost should be tied to additional oversight measures to guard against excessive salaries for facility managers, poor quality programs and fiscal mismanagement.

Legislative Gazette: Lawmakers and educators push to save school based health centers

By Thomas Pudney, November 1

Lawmakers and health care and education experts are urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign legislation they say will ease financial burdens on school based health centers.

The legislation, sponsored in the Assembly by Richard Gottfried, D–Manhattan, and in the Senate by James Seward, R–Oneonta, would maintain the current system, by which SBHC are directly reimbursed by Medicaid which allows the clinics to keep overhead and administrative costs low.

The state Department of Health is planning to change the reimbursement system as of July 1, 2018 when SBHCs will be required to negotiate the terms and conditions of payment through managed care plans. A report by the Children’s Defense Fund found that this transition will cost SBHCs over $16 million in lost revenue. Already, SBHCs have suffered over $7 million, or nearly 30 percent in funding cuts since 2008, while their patient population has grown.

Crain’s New York: State issues emergency regs on how it pays home care workers for 24-hour shifts

By Caroline Lewis, October 13

The state Department of Labor has issued an emergency update to its minimum-wage regulations that reinforces its longstanding guidance to home health care employers to pay workers for just 13 hours of a 24-hour shift.

The policy, known as the ’13-hour rule,’ helps control state spending on home care, which accounts for about 11% of the Medicaid budget. But it conflicts with three New York appellate court decisions issued in April and September that threw the home care industry into a panic.

The rulings said home health aides who don’t live full time with their elderly or disabled clients should be paid for every hour of a 24-hour shift. Although the Labor Department says workers don’t need to be paid for time spent sleeping and eating, the courts ruled they should be paid as long as they’re required to be at work.

Gotham Gazette: Amid Health Care Funding Fights, Cuomo Explores Special Session

By Rachel Silberstein, October 12

Governor Andrew Cuomo has been floating the idea of a special legislative session to address federal cuts to the state’s health care programs, as well as other concerns that have developed, since the state budget was agreed to in April.

In that budget, Cuomo pushed to include and won a provision granting him nearly unilateral power to adjust the state’s financial plan mid-year in the event of at least $800 million in federal cuts to the state. In April, the governor said the provision would ensure that “we do not overcommit ourselves financially” and indicated it allowed him to sign off on a budget that did not otherwise account for likely federal cuts. But, it appears as if Cuomo may call lawmakers back to Albany — likely with agreement from the legislative majorities to an agenda — regardless of whether the threshold has been met.

Chelsea Now – Cyclist Fatalities Addressed: Route Adherence Stressed, Crosstown Bike Lanes Suggested

By Dusica Malesevic, October 10

For the first time since two cyclists were killed this past summer after being struck by charter buses, bus companies sat down last week with the community, elected officials, the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) and the NYPD.

Brandon Buchanan, director of regulatory affairs for the American Bus Association, said it was the first time they had been invited. The meeting, which took place on Thurs., Oct. 5 and was convened by Councilmember Corey Johnson’s office, was a good opportunity to establish a partnership, B

Adirondack Almanac: North Country Looks At Single-Payer Health Care

By Bill Quinlivan, October 7

Recently, residents from around the North Country assembled in the Long Lake Town Hall to hear and participate in a meeting dedicated to better understanding the New York Health Act, the projected savings for Adirondack communities of this single-payer health-insurance program and where it currently stands in the state legislature.

Dr. Jack Carney of the North Country Access to Health Care Committee and member of the Long Lake Alliance moderated the evening’s program.  The program featured Dr. Andrew Coates as the keynote speaker.  Dr. Coates is assistant professor of medicine and psychiatry at Albany Medical College and past president of Physicians for a National Health Plan.

City & State: State single-payer health care could be supported by Cuomo

By Grace Segers, October 5

Last month, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the once and perhaps future presidential candidate, unveiled legislation to create a single-payer health care system. U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, another potential presidential candidate in 2020, was one of 16 senators to sign on as a co-sponsor of the Medicare for All Act. And Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who’s also on short lists of likely Democratic presidential contenders, offered his support for the proposal as well.

In an interview on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show,” Cuomo called the federal plan, which would make health care universal and publicly funded by the taxpayer, “a good idea.”

Truthout: As GOP Attacks Health Care, Movement for Single-Payer Grows Across Country

By Michael Corcoran, 9/26

As Republicans seek to throw millions of Americans off insurance this week, progressives are, once again, playing defense. Activists are going full bore to stop the Cassidy-Graham bill, which is opposed by virtually every health organization of significance. The legislation, which grows more contemptible with each passing day, would lead to about 41,600 deaths a year, according to a report released yesterday by the Annals of Internal Medicine.

“We cannot be silent while Congress plays political games with the lives of our patients,” said Dr. Carol Paris, president of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), in a statement sent to Truthout.

Indeed, the GOP’s frightening efforts are a reminder why it is vital to have a movement for health care justice that seeks to end the commodification of health care, one way or another.

The good news is that this movement is growing, as is evident from the fiery opposition to Trumpcare. And this movement is fueling growing momentum for single-payer health care, not only with Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All bill, but also across the states. Passing a statewide plan has proven difficult, with recent efforts in several states either killed or stalled. These disappointments have been a source of frustration for advocates and cannon fodder for the for-profit health industry. It has become almost impossible to read a critique of single-payer without a talking point like: If it didn’t work in Vermont, how could it work anywhere?

However, these arguments are deeply flawed and misrepresent not only the battle over statewide health care in Vermont, but also how single-payer works at any level. The failures to win universal care in Vermont and Colorado are indeed considerable setbacks. But do they reflect systemic reasons why a public, universal health care system is impossible? Is the fight for a statewide system under these principles dead?

Not according to organizers, legislators and medical professionals in five states who spoke with Truthout. Despite setbacks, these organizers continue to advance the cause of health care justice. Their approaches include increased grassroots pressure (in California and New York), new policies which aim to build toward universal care one sector at a time (Vermont), and efforts to measure the impacts of single-payer in real time (Massachusetts) to better understand and educate stakeholders about the impacts of the policy.

Times-Union: Legislation would mandate coverage of prostate cancer screenings

By Matt Hamilton, 9/27

ALBANY — State legislation introduced last week would mandate that insurers cover in full prostate cancer screenings for men who are middle-aged and older, in the same vein as a state mandate for breast cancer screening coverage.

The bill from state Sens. Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville, and Kemp Hannon, R-Long Island, and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, D-Manhattan, would bar insurers from charging an annual deductible or co-pay for prostate cancer screenings for men 40 and older with a family history of such cancer, and also men 50 and over regardless of whether they show symptoms of cancer.

“This vital public health legislation will save lives by removing obstacles for prostate cancer screening which will encourage more men to take charge of their health before their cancer becomes worse,” Tedisco said in a statement. “This bill also will save taxpayers money in the long run by preventing unnecessary hospitalizations and burdensome medical expenses through early detection and treatment.”

In 2016, Gov. Andrew Cuomo sought and won similar coverage of breast cancer screenings. His advocacy came after his longtime partner, Food Network star Sandra Lee, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015. She underwent a double mastectomy and had multiple follow-up surgeries, though she said in September 2015 she was cancer free.

Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi said the the administration would review the prostate cancer bill.