Hospitals growing more comfortable with budget

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.

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