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From Assemblywoman Byrnes: Medical Issues In This Year’s Budget

April 8, 2022
From Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes: 
Friday afternoon in Albany. We just started on the budget again. Bill A9007C is up for debate.
Included in this bill: 1) Nursing Profession Incentives. RNs and LPNs can get their student loans repaid if they work in underserved communities for three years.
2) Medicaid payments will increase by 1%. This is dramatically less than hospitals and nursing homes need.
3) Insurance Companies will be required to cover abortion services. There is an exemption for religious employers who have employees who share their religious views.
4) Telehealth visits will be reimbursed at same rate as in-person visits.
5) Marriage Licenses. There is a new procedure to change name or gender on a marriage license. If the town clerk does not issue a new license, the Attorney General can institute an action to compel compliance.
6) there is a process to protect patients from surprise bills.
7) There will be a 5.4 % COLA for people who work for Office for the Aging, office of Children and Family Services, OHM, OPWDD This includes Home Health Setvices provided by CCOs. 8. Suicide Prevsntion Hotline (9-8-8). 9). There are many other provisions as well.
Again, there were some excellent parts of this bill. I did vote “No.”
Let me explain why: The Medicaid reimbursement rate is inadequate. Medicaid payments to hospitals and nursing homes does not even come close to covering the cost of care. Increasing Medicaid payments by 1% is inadequate. We run a serious risk of having facilities close in the future. This is an issue of priorities. Further, while I am happy we will encourage students to go into nursing, it will be years before these students enter the work force. The nursing shortages is now AND it predated the pandemic. During debate, the bill sponsor was asked why NYS is not a member of a interstate nurses compact which would allow nurses in other states to work in NYS. The sponsor opined that other states do not have the same level of training. I asked her if there were any plans to rehire our NYS certified top notch nurses who were forced to resign or terminated for refusing the vaccination. She indicated there are no plans. Our state would rather have a dire nursing shortage than top notch NYS qualified nurses who are unvaccinated. I am also concerned that assisted living facility are getting no COVID relief and other issues as well.

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