This just in: Healthcare and the state budget

Albany reached a budget agreement in time to start the state’s new fiscal year on April 1. As always, it was a tough fight. But NYSNA members were right there in the mix, calling on legislators and the governor to do right by our state’s people. Healthcare must be a matter of right, not privilege, and that takes proper funding and rules that put people and community needs first.

The fact is: the healthcare delivery in New York remains mired in a systemic crisis. The state budget is an important part of tackling the dysfunction and with our effort, the results are mostly impressive:

  • Pilot Private-Equity Investment Program: Once again, we beat back a pilot program that would have allowed for-profit private equity investors to invest directly in up to five hospitals in New York. Private equity investors will not be able to diminish vital services and burden our hospitals with debt.
  • Funding for Capital Grants for Hospitals, Residential Healthcare Facilities, Diagnostic Treatment Centers, and Licensed Clinics: NYSNA supported the proposed capital restructuring financing program, but called for additional funding. The budget maintains the original funding level, which will still provide some relief to cash-strapped hospitals.
  • Safe Patient Handling: A NYSNA legislative priority, safe patient handling provisions were enacted as part of this year’s budget.
  • Limited Service Clinics: Legislators heard our concern and rejected the proposal to allow corporate ownership of health clinics in drug stores and other retail establishments. NYSNA fervently opposes the Walmartization of healthcare services because they are about profit, not health or care.
  • Urgent Care Centers: We supported the proposal requiring accreditation for urgent care centers and called for Certificate of Need (CON) review to apply to them. Additional regulation of urgent care centers was not approved and CON review will not be required for new centers to open.
  • Certificate of Need Redesign: We opposed proposals to change CON regulations that would reduce the scope of review and weaken local communities’ ability to assess their healthcare needs and have a say in meeting them. The legislature once again rejected weakening the CON regulations.
  • Nursing Education: We support greater funding for nursing education programs, particularly given the expectation that the nursing shortage in New York State will continue. These programs will continue under current funding levels.
  • Nurse Practitioner Modernization Act: The final budget also enacted changes to the provisions of the Nurse Practice Act to provide greater flexibility for nurse practitioners with more than 3,600 hours of experience to practice with collaborative physician “relationships” in lieu of formal collaborative physician “agreements.” This is a win for NYSNA and will allow NPs to practice with more independence.
  • RN Supervision in OPWDD Programs: “Support staff” in programs overseen by the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) in the Office of Mental Hygiene (OMH) will now be allowed to engage in nursing tasks under the supervision of an RN. This exemption in the Nurse Practice Act already exists for institutions that OMH oversees; the additional provisions make clear that the assignment of tasks to support personnel is at the RN’s discretion. And, for the first time, these assignments are subject to staffing ratios – an important win for us!

Universal pre-K

The budget includes funding for universal pre-K statewide for the coming year, although NYC did not win the right to raises taxes on its richest residents (the mayor's plan, and one we supported) to provide secure funding for the next five years.

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