Written by Michael N. Rosenblut Friday, 08 October 2010 00:00
Times are tough enough without unnecessary cuts to health care for older adults!
On Sept. 16, the Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation was the host site for a Town Hall meeting to discuss the repeal of a Federal Medicaid Assistance (FMAP) Contingency Plan that had recently been adopted by the State, under the assumption that no federal fiscal relief for states would be approved by Congress.
The Town Hall was cosponsored by the Continuing Care Leadership Coalition (CCLC), which represents more than 100 regional not-for-profit organizations, as well as Senator Craig Johnson and Assemblywoman Ann-Margaret Carrozza, who were joined by Assembly members Rory Lancman and Grace Meng, and representatives from the Offices of Senator Joseph Addabbo and Assemblyman David Weprin.
Residents, patients, and family members of loved ones who are being cared for in the long term care facilities of Nassau and Queens Counties, in addition to labor representatives of direct care workers, pointed out that, in August, New York received $1.4 billion in Federal relief from Congress —$315 million more than was assumed in this year’s State budget. This injection of federal funds, vigorously supported by New York’s congressional delegation, eliminated the need for the contingency plan’s proposed cuts.
If the State’s FMAP Contingency Law is not repealed, millions of dollars will continue to be unnecessarily drained from payments to providers that cover the cost of inpatient and home health care of older adults –despite the fact that the State will actually receive more in Federal aid than anticipated in the State budget.
The need for immediate attention to repeal has been made even more critical because the State’s Division of Budget has already begun the process of cutting payments to health and human services providers.
These cuts to adult health care providers would come on top of eight rounds of cuts and tax increases since 2007. Non-profits, which are acknowledged to provide the highest quality, most innovative and comprehensive health care to older adults, understand why the contingency plan was first conceived; but now the new Federal law negates the need for that plan. In fact, the Federal law was enacted by Congress with the specific intent that vital State services would be “protected” from such cuts!
State Senator Craig Johnson gave hope and support to those gathered at the event to advocate for repeal of the FMAP Contingency Plan. “We reached out to our leaders in the Senate,” he said, “to urge them to enter into a dialogue with our Assembly leaders and Governor Paterson to start that process.” A bill (S.8479) has been introduced in the Senate calling for repeal. In the name of good health care for seniors, we hope this bill is soon adopted by both the entire Senate and Assembly, and approved by the governor. If you wish to obtain a sample letter calling for repeal of the State’s FMAP Contingency Plan, you are invited to call 718-289-2250.
(Michael N. Rosenblut is President And CEO of Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation)