NEW YORK NURSE: May 2011
by Erin Silk
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s final 2011-12 budget touts the elimination of the state’s $10 billion deficit without raising taxes or borrowing. However, a large portion of the savings the governor is counting on is expected to come from a Medicaid spending cap that NYSNA remains concerned about.
Following weeks of aggressive lobbying efforts, suspension of the Nursing Care Quality Protection Act (Public Health Law 2805t, known as the disclosure law) was not included in the final budget. Suspension of this law, which requires hospitals, nursing homes and diagnostic and treatment centers to disclose specific information concerning nursing quality indicators, staffing and complaints made against the facility, would not have saved the state money and would have set back hard-won efforts to keep the public informed about critical quality indicators.
Funding for SUNY and CUNY nursing programs was also spared, and funds were reinstated for the Nursing Faculty Loan Forgiveness Incentive and Senator Patricia K. McGee Nursing Faculty Scholarship programs through 2016. The funding is available retroactively, so those students who were enrolled in the programs when they expired on June 30, 2010 should receive their committed funds. This news comes to the great relief of nursing students who are already enrolled in faculty programs, and hopefully encourages others to consider becoming nurse educators.
The target of $2.3 billion in cuts to Medicaid meant it was very likely the final budget would have to include a cap on spending. As included in the budget, the global spending cap contains ill-defined utilization controls and rate reductions that give the Department of Health (DOH) full authority to implement cost control plans. While NYSNA was successful in advocating for re-approval of the cap in two years, it remains deeply concerned about the impact on already fragile facilities and fear the cap will lead to the under-staffing, poorly coordinated care and fumbled care transitions by facilities forced to do more with less.
Medicaid funding isn’t just numbers on paper, but represents resources that affect the care and well-being of real people,” said NYSNA CEO Tina Gerardi. “We need to make sure that healthcare facilities around the state have the resources they need, including appropriate, qualified staff.”
NYSNA had campaigned for a “go slower” approach with regards to Medicaid reform and will now concentrate on working with DOH to ensure that spending controls do not jeopardize care for our state’s most vulnerable residents.
The final approved state budget is $132.9 billion – a decrease of 2.7 percent or $3.7 billion from 2010-11. It closes a deficit of $10 billion with an $8.9 billion reduction in spending, $340 million in revenue enhancements and $805 million in non-recurring actions.
For more information about the Executive State Budget, visit www.budget.state.ny.