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Legislative Bulletin: All Hands On Deck to Advance Priority Legislation

Time is Running Out to Advance Priority Legislation

All hands on deck, advocates! With only 11 session days left, LeadingAge NY remains committed to advancing important bills that we support and defeating those that we oppose. Keep up the pressure on your legislators by sending them a message on any of the following priorities:

Your continued advocacy and communications to lawmakers will help to ensure that these bills be addressed this legislative session. While LeadingAge New York connects with legislators in Albany we need the support of our members, the constituents, to keep the pressure on and finish the 2019 session strong!

 

Rent Regulation Update

Over the last several weeks, both the state Senate and the Assembly have held a series of public hearings on rent regulation and tenant protections. The hearings were held in Albany, New York City, Rochester, Newburgh, and other locations across the state. LeadingAge NY has submitted written testimony to both the Assembly and Senate Housing committees, as we are working to ensure that any action on security deposits must exclude retirement housing communities.

Since the completion of the Senate hearings earlier this week, legislative leaders of both chambers issued a joint statement on Thursday announcing that the body will “enact the strongest rent package ever”. The full press release can be found here.

 

"Public Health in New York State in the 2020s" Symposium to Be Held June 5th in Albany

On Wednesday, June 5th, the Rockefeller Institute of Government and Binghamton University will host a symposium titled “Public Health in New York State in the 2020s: The Challenges We'll Face and How We Can Prepare for Them Today” with Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. The event is free and will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Rockefeller Institute, located at 411 State Street, Albany, NY 12203.

From the event announcement:

Join the Rockefeller Institute and Binghamton University on June 5, 2019, for a symposium examining the major public health challenges New York State is likely to face in the next decade and how we can prepare our policies, analytical capacities, and public health infrastructure to overcome them.

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker will deliver a keynote address, followed by a full day of panels featuring leading health policymakers, researchers, and practitioners. Panel topics will include:

  • Early childhood health
  • Environmental health
  • Health equity and social determinants
  • Population health and health infrastructure
  • Mental health and addiction
  • Infrastructure for an aging population
  • And more

While registration for the symposium is currently full, interested attendees may add their names to the waitlist here.

 

Public Hearing on the New York Health Act

On Tuesday, May 28th the New York state Senate and Assembly held a joint public hearing to gather feedback on the NY Health Act. Senators present included Gustavo Rivera, Robert Antonacci, Susan Serino, John Liu, Velmanette Montgomery, Kevin Thomas, Jen Metzger, Patrick Gallivan, Roxanne Persaud, Rachel May, Anna Kaplan, Diane Savino, James Gaughran, and Neil Breslin. Assembly Members present included Richard Gottfried, Charles Fall, Rodneyse Bichotte, Jacob Ashby, Edward Ra, Patricia Fahy, Kevin Byrne, John Salka, Edward Braunstein, Andrew Garbarino, Philip Steck, and Andrew Raia.

The hearing was attended by a wide array of activists, union negotiators, and industry representatives with topics of conversation involving single-payer market efficiency, single-payer effects on the labor force, and how NYS plans to implement single-payer healthcare.

Gottfried and Rivera began the hearing noting millions of people across NY frequently go without care due to financial hardships and a lack of health coverage. They claimed this is unacceptable noting the NY Health Act, regardless of opinion, is the only plan currently in the Senate or Assembly addressing these problems at their core.

Dr. Mitch Katz, President/CEO of NYC Health and Hospitals (NYCHAH) delivered the first testimony of the day, claiming a single-payer system will better treat illness, enhance primary care, and decrease hospital admission. His organization estimates roughly 20% of all total dollars currently spent on healthcare are wasted on bureaucracy designed to decipher negotiations with private insurance companies. Specifically, he claimed care professionals are frequently required to authorize, negotiate, and design individual treatment plans for insurance companies as opposed to patients. Darius Shahinfar, Albany City Treasurer, echoed these cost concerns claiming the private market has been spiraling out of control for decades. As he explained, since he took office, insurance costs for Albany have increased from $22 million to $26 million with the private marketplace increasing at a rate of 200% to 300% since 1986. Thus, a public system, single payer or otherwise, could reign in the greater insurance market and help cost control the market if the federal government will not consider single-payer healthcare an option.

Katz went on to explain current systems result in extensive burnout for treatment professionals as they spend more time studying and negotiating with insurance companies than treating patients.

In response, Senator Antonacci questioned if anything could be done alongside current market providers to improve healthcare without the need for single-payer systems. Katz explained his organization would prefer a shift away from reactionary care, in hospitals, to preventative models, in primary care, as early treatment always constitutes a cheaper alternative. Senator Rivera later supported this claim, based on his data, noting hospital admissions frequently cost an upward of $40,000 while primary care visits normally cap out around $3,000 maximum.

In discussing potential negative impacts on the economy and labor force, Helen Schaub, Vice President 1199 SEIU, and Carl Ginsburg, Communications Director NYS Nurses Association, characterized our current health standards as a crisis. They claimed that New York’s nurses and medical professionals are willing to risk their negotiated benefits if it means better outcomes for patients everywhere considering they have always had to pay rising healthcare costs by sacrificing wages at the negotiating table.

In contrast Eric Linzer, NY Health Plan Association, and Jamie Schutzer, NYS Association of Health underwriters, disagreed with presenters thus far. While both gentlemen believed the state should do more for coverage, the NY Health Act stands to shutter ongoing systems as opposed to expanding them. As Linzer explained, estimates predict over half of the 4.7% of people currently lacking insurance in NY qualify under managed care programs with market fluctuations of no more than 2% up or down any year. Thus, the problem is not the health care system, but that people aren't aware of the benefits they may qualify for. To remedy this, they claimed NY should focus on expanding current systems, stabilizing market volatility, and better use tax credits and subsidies to assist vulnerable populations as opposed to gutting the current systems which have a coverage rate of 96%. Furthermore, Schutzer recommended NY consider investing in transparency initiatives to assist consumers better select individual plans as market shocks resulting from altering current systems could limit consumer choice, devastate the economy, and raise costs through taxes.

Lastly, many legislators voiced concern over how implementation might impact current systems. Assemblyman Byrne specifically inquired into the legislations impacts on elderly people, especially those covered under NYS public health living outside of NY during retirement. Katz admitted this area is also of concern to his organization noting if there was any area NYS should consider implementing a carve out, this is it. He did additionally note however that he is not capable of providing tangible solutions to labor-oriented questions such as this.

To view the testimony in its entirety, click here.  

What do you think? Let us know what you think the New York Health Act could mean for you!

 

Assembly Hearing on Rural Health Care Services is Underway

The Assembly Standing Committee on Health is holding a public hearing in Albany today on the challenges facing rural health care providers and patients. LeadingAge New York delivered oral testimony highlighting the challenges facing LTPAC and MLTC providers including workforce shortages, insufficient payment rates, a lack of transportation to bring providers to consumers and vice versa, dispersal of consumers over large geographic regions, insufficient population density to achieve scale and efficiencies, and inadequate housing stock. Some of these obstacles are experienced throughout the state, however, they tend to be more pronounced and more difficult to address in rural communities. A copy of LeadingAge New York’s full testimony can be found here and video of the testimony can be found here.

 

Ami Schnauber, aschnauber@leadingageny.org, 518-867-8854

Sarah Daly, sdaly@leadingageny.org, 518-867-8845