New York Approves Health Care Package
The New York state Senate onTuesday approved legislation that would allocate about $59.2 billion -- ornearly half of the $124 billion state budget proposed for fiscal year 2009 --for health care, the New York Times reports (Peters, New York Times, 4/2). The bill wouldexpand SCHIP eligibility to children in families with incomes up to 400% of thefederal poverty level, up from 250% of the poverty level. The expansion wouldcost $25 million annually and be paid entirely by the state because of to Bushadministration regulations tightening eligibility in SCHIP (Matthews, Rochester Democratand Chronicle,4/2).
The legislation also includes a provision that would recalculate the stateMedicaid hospital payment formula. However, under the plan, the newreimbursement rates would expire after the first year and require authorizationfrom the state Legislature. According to estimates, the new rates would savethe state $57 million in the first year (New York Times, 4/2). Thesavings would be used to increase spending for hospital clinics, emergencydepartments and ambulatory care. The state also would allocate $45 million forcommunity clinics, medical services and additional payments for providers whohave evening and weekend hours, state budget officials said.
According to Deborah Bachrach of the state Department of Health, the legislation would change thepayment system for outpatient care that is based on the type of care provided,rather than a flat fee. She said the physician fees would increase by 35% annuallyunder the plan.
The bill also includes $17 million in proposed cuts to nursing homes, comparedwith $117 million in cuts proposed by Gov. David Paterson (D), and restores $37million of a proposed $43 million reduction in home care. In addition, statelawmakers approved a $15.6 million loan-forgiveness program, called"Doctors Across New York," under which physicians could receive up to$150,000 for loans if they make a five-year commitment to practice in areaswhere there are shortages. Two-year grants totaling $100,000 would be availablefor physicians who establish or join practices or clinics in medicallyunderserved areas. The program would provide up to $5 million to supportresident training in community-based areas and funds also would be distributedto minority and low-income students enrolled in medical school programs(Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 4/2).
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