NEW YORK NURSE: September 2008
by Nancy Webber
The New York State Legislature returned to Albany in August to reduce its planned spending for 2008-2009, just four months after adopting a state budget.
Lawmakers agreed to cut $427 million from the current budget, mostly from a 6% across-the-board reduction in funding to state agencies. Gov. David Paterson, who called lawmakers back into session, also has implemented a state hiring freeze and other cuts that he said will reduce state spending by another $630 million.
Paterson predicted that, without the cost cutting, the state would face a $6.4 billion deficit by the spring of 2010.
As New York Nurse went to press, the impact on funds available for nursing scholarships and grants was unclear.
“This money may be subject to the across-the-board cut,” said Shaun Flynn, director of the NYSNA Governmental Affairs Department. “Apparently it will be up to the various agencies to decide which programs to cut and by how much, as long as their total expenditures are reduced by 6%.”
The original state budget included $5 million in support for nursing schools: $2 million for SUNY, $2 million for CUNY, and $1 million for private schools. Another $4 million was designated for the Patricia McGee scholarship and grant program for nurses who plan to take faculty positions at nursing schools.
Hospitals, nursing homes, home care agencies, and personal care providers saw a reduction in the “trend factor,” which means they will not receive as much of an increase in state reimbursement as they expected.
The legislature did not, however, impose a new tax on healthcare facilities or cut Medicaid spending as proposed by the Governor.
“The majority of this state’s hospitals continue to lose money or barely break even,” said Daniel Sisto, president of the Healthcare Association of New York State. “In the last decade alone, 29 hospitals and even more nursing homes have closed across the state. How we respond from this point forward will determine whether even more hospitals and nursing homes are forced to close, depriving their communities of essential health care services.”
“The size of the projected deficit indicates that the budget approval process for next year will be extremely difficult,” said Flynn. “New spending programs will be highly unlikely and we will have to fight to maintain the programs we have now.”