Officials with a local hospital say state lawmakers are moving toward a budget that would be "less damaging" to health care than earlier proposals.
Chandler Ralph is president and CEO of the Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake. She says initial proposals from the governor would have resulted in nearly $6 billion in cuts for hospitals and nursing homes across the state.
The Medicaid Redesign Team offered several actions to address the governor's proposed cuts, which the Senate and Assembly have incorporated into their respective spending plans.
"Hospitals and nursing homes have endured years of crippling across-the-board funding cuts," Ralph said.
"With this year's state budget we have the best opportunity to begin enacting real funding reforms to get costs under control without jeopardizing safety net services for our patients and nursing home residents," she added.
Ralph says one of the key measures proposed by the Medicaid Redesign Team was a two percent rate reduction and global spending cap for Medicaid.
While any funding cut is difficult for AMC to absorb, Ralph says, the key difference is the motivation to reform the Medicaid system in New York to avoid the deeper and more damaging across-the-board funding cuts year after year.
Ralph notes that proposals made by Cuomo's redesign team have been incorporated into the Senate and Assembly spending plans, yet they differ in the oversight and execution of the reform measures.
AMC is advocating the state legislature maintain its role in evaluating whether Medicaid expenditures should be determined by a cap or by society's needs, Ralph says.
"Funding and other policy decisions of this magnitude cannot rest solely with the executive branch of state government," she notes.
Among other issues central to the health care discussion is the need to resolve nursing home reimbursement to protect the availability of care.
According to Ralph, AMC continues to grapple with the challenges of inadequate reimbursements for its long term care facilities in Lake Placid and Tupper Lake.
AMC and its medical staff are advocating for meaningful medical malpractice reform, Ralph says. That's an issue that has been at the forefront of the health care discussion for many years.
Malpractice insurance premiums, particularly those for specialty practices such as OB/GYN, have become a disincentive for many physicians to practice in New York State, officials say.
For Ralph, medical malpractice reform must include a cap on non-economic damages as well as a medical indemnity fund for neurologically impaired newborns.
AMC spokesman Joe Riccio says officials from AMC remain in constant contact with their elected leaders in Albany, who have long been extremely supportive and responsive to the health care needs of the region.
Members of the public are encouraged to contact their elected officials in the Senate and the Assembly urging them to protect the critical health care services and economic benefit AMC provides to the Tri-Lakes region, Riccio says.