For Immediate Release
Contact: Robin Wood, 518.782.9400, ext 223
ALBANY, March 3, 2011 – The New York State Nurses Association is exceptionally concerned that the state’s crucial healthcare safety net cannot sustain the reductions proposed in Governor Cuomo’s budget plan. If implemented all at once, the $2.3 billion in reductions proposed for the Medicaid program will have a severe effect on the state’s most vulnerable residents, potentially reducing access to health care, increasing morbidity and, ultimately, adding to long-term healthcare costs.
“Medicaid is ripe for reform – we need to improve care and improve care management, but reform needs to be carefully planned so that it both improves care and controls costs,” said Shaun Flynn, director of Governmental Affairs for the Nurses Association. “Short-term cuts of this magnitude to New York’s healthcare safety net could yield dramatic, negative consequences.”
Though many of the proposals in the Medicaid Redesign Team’s report are innovative solutions that promise better coordination of care, some of the proposals will not provide the promised long-term savings and will denigrate the quality of care for the state’s most vulnerable residents. And, if some of the state’s fiscally brittle, safety net hospitals can’t sustain these deep cuts, all New Yorkers will pay the price when hospitals close.
To preserve vital healthcare programs, the Nurses Association encourages the Governor and legislature to compromise and take a “go slower” approach to redesigning the state’s vital Medicaid program. Instead of this rushed, chaotic process, reconsider revenue-generating ideas – such as extending the income tax surcharge on high-income earners– to buy time for a considered Medicaid redesign process that will allow consumers and their advocates an effective voice in the process.
“It’s a matter of fairness – the way to save money is not by harming the sick and the needy,” said Tina Gerardi, MS, RN, CAE, CEO of the Nurses Association. “And it’s a matter of cost-effectiveness – the way to manage costs, now and into the future, is by providing the right care at the right time.”
The future of the Medicaid program must include healthcare homes that provide coordinated, primary and preventive health care for even the most complex and fragile recipients and a process that holds plans and providers accountable for meeting established quality outcomes. All services whether acute, sub-acute, residential, or ambulatory, must be accessible and community-based and must include sufficient numbers of registered nurses to ensure they are safe and effective.
Specifically, the Nurses Association opposes any proposals:
The Nurses Association supports a wide range of innovative, evidence-based practices that will contribute to the state’s ability to provide cost-effective, high-quality health care, including the expansion of Medicaid managed care programs that give consumers access to medical homes providing a high level of care coordination and an emphasis on preventive and primary care.
“We understand the fiscal realities that the state faces, but there is a better route to Medicaid reform,” Flynn said. “Shared sacrifice shouldn’t come at the expense of New York’s most vulnerable consumers and we shouldn’t sacrifice the future of our healthcare system to close the budget gap.”
The New York State Nurses Association is the oldest and largest professional organization for registered nurses in the state. It represents the interests of more than 270,000 registered nurses and serves as the collective bargaining agent for more than 36,000 RNs at 150 healthcare facilities. It supports nurses and nursing practice through education, research, legislative advocacy, and collective bargaining.
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