Paterson Reaffirms Plans To Reform Health Care System

ALBANY—Governor David A. Paterson applauded the work of New York’s hospitals this week and called them critical partners in continuing the State’s push to improve access to quality and preventive health care.

During remarks to the Greater New York Hospital Association’s (GNYHA) Annual Meeting in New York City, the Governor said that New York is leading the nation in health care policy because of the partnership built between the State and health care organizations. The Governor also stressed the progress the State made with the passage of the Enacted Budget –emphasizing the State’s commitment to reforming New York’s health care system and providing increased access to care for all New Yorkers. The strong partnership with organizations such as GNYHA are exemplified by the successes the State achieved in this year’s budget, including: taking the first steps to reform the reimbursement system; addressing the doctor shortages in rural and low income urban areas; providing universal health insurance coverage to children throughout the state; and reducing Medicaid fraud to allow more investment in health care. The Governor noted that GNYHA, along with 1199, HANYS and others, actively participated in the budget process, in reaching agreement on appropriate cost containment actions; on necessary reforms – some of which had been unsuccessfully proposed for many years – and where complete agreement could not be reached, on steps and actions to begin reforms and propose additional steps in next year’s budget.

“We need more primary and preventive care. We need greater access to affordable health insurance. We need to fix our medical malpractice system. We need more effective public health programs. We need a system that offers every New Yorker access to high-quality health care at a price they can afford,� said Governor Paterson. “This is a major challenge. But I believe we can be successful by tackling it together.�

While the Governor noted the substantial progress made in this year’s budget, he also made clear that the reform agenda remains unfinished and that he will work with all stakeholders to continue pushing hard for necessary, fundamental change.

The Governor also said this is no time to rest – with a recessionary national economy – the State and health care organizations need to work together to find ways to increase access to cost effective outpatient care and find savings in the health care system before the economic downturn increases the number of people who are uninsured. New York already has 2.6 million residents without health insurance, and as the economy continues to worsen, that number is bound to increase. The Governor noted that New York is ready to address this challenge by further simplifying and streamlining access to Medicaid and Child Health Plus and eliminating onerous and duplicative requirements that prevent people from accessing health insurance.

In office for just a few weeks, Governor Paterson discussed how New York was successful in cutting $1 billion in state agency spending from the budget. The Enacted State Budget fully funds the $19 million gap left by the Federal government’s failure to support its share of the expansion of Child Health Plus and ensures that nearly every one of the 400,000 uninsured children in the State will have access to health insurance; reforms the State’s reimbursement system to shift dollars to more effective primary and preventive care; and helps control runaway Medicaid costs.

The Governor also discussed how the State needs to keep working with health care organizations to improve the State’s ambulatory care system – which will allow the opportunity to develop new hospital inpatient rate methods as the State updates Medicaid rates over the next four years. This partnership will also help address medical malpractice to create a system that sets manageable costs for physicians and promotes patient safety. The Governor also highlighted the fact that by forming an alliance with hospitals and other health care organizations it will promote healthy, competitive insurance suppliers who will ensure that victims will be paid and providers protected. In addition, a partnership of this nature will help to stand up for New York and fight misguided policies on the Federal level. 4-24-08

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