Bipartisan effort to push for 10% Medicaid reimbursement in state budget

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – As the state budget nears completion, some lawmakers are criticizing the governor’s proposal for Medicaid reimbursement. They say it’s not enough. 

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are asking for reimbursement of at least 10% for hospitals, and 20% for nursing homes. They say the Medicaid reimbursement rate hasn’t been increased in 14 years.

It comes at a time where healthcare providers and employees are begging for better pay, better working environments and less backlogs.

Advocates said for every dollar of care a Medicaid patient receives in New York State, the provider is reimbursed an average of 61 cents. That’s where some lawmakers, along with healthcare union 1199 SEIU say that needs to be more.

While Governor Kathy Hochul said a conceptual agreement was reached on Thursday evening, lawmakers like Assemblyman Harry Bronson said there’s still a lot on the table being discussed.

“So we’re not giving up until bills are in print and ready to be voted on.”

Bronson said our healthcare system is still struggling, three years since COVID-19 hit.

“A workforce shortage due to low pay and long hours, overflowing emergency departments awaiting care, staff vacancies, vacant beds in nursing homes and nursing homes turning patients away,” he said.

Lawmakers said the governor is proposing a Medicaid reimbursement of five to 6.5% for hospitals, but not 10%.

On top of that, Republican and Democratic lawmakers want a 20% reimbursement for nursing homes.

“When we look at our safety net hospitals, they’re forced to make decisions daily about how to manage dangerously low cashflow, and this is a challenge”

“There was a report yesterday that the Wyoming County had to close their because they didn’t have enough staff.”

The increase in reimbursement would in turn help recruit and retain employees.

Tina Hawkins works at Strong Memorial Hospital in the Sterile Processing Department. She said they all have been feeling the weight of long hours, and burnout.

“We are exhausted, mentally, physically and emotionally,” said Hawkins. “Fighting through this pandemic crisis is hard financially. With that being said we need proper funding.”

In the meantime, Hochul said major decisions have already been made. Fine tuning will be worked out over the weekend before bills are printed.

In a press conference Thursday evening, she only briefly touched on healthcare. She’s hoping for an additional $1 billion in health care capital funding. She’s also proposing an expansion to the Medicaid Buy-In Program for working people with disabilities, as well as an increase in funding for the Interagency Coordinating Council for Services to Persons who are Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing.