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Friday, February 2nd 2007

Old People Should Cheer…

…soon New York state nursing homes will only be able to afford to hire convicted felons. Just kidding. But the concern stems from Spitzer’s massive cuts to Medicaid (and other health spending) in his proposed budget.

The budget would,

cut $1.2 billion from existing health care programs.

But would not cut overall spending.

[The budget w]ould increase overall spending by 6.3 percent — about double the rate of inflation

Medicaid is atrocious in reimbursement. Is anything worse than it besides say the military’s TRICARE? I don’t know the figures on how this affects say, a pregnant woman on Medicaid’s access to care, but it can’t be positive. And now finding an Ob/Gyn might get more difficult.

To control health care spending, Mr. Spitzer would hold the growth of Medicaid to 1.7 percent, compared to 8 percent growth rates in recent years, by cutting subsidies to hospitals and nursing homes, slashing Medicaid reimbursement rates and by stepping up efforts to combat fraud.

The governor’s Medicaid proposals would freeze reimbursement rates to hospitals and nursing homes, lower reimbursements to pharmacies and overhaul payments to hospitals to help them increase salaries.

As well, obviously Medicaid provides nursing home/assisted living coverage (something Medicare, to many’s surprise, does not). And it isn’t like New York has some of the highest quality nursing homes in the country to begin with. As of a 2001 study,

98 percent of New York State nursing homes do not provide enough staff to care for their residents’ basic needs and about half of the homes have such low staffing levels that their residents’ health and well-being are put at risk.

I wonder what these cuts will do to that assessment.

In next sentence though it is prudent for me to point out my complete lack of education on this issue. Governor Spitzer is, per the NY Times…

…confronting the nation’s costliest Medicaid program, one that helps support an expansive but money-losing hospital industry with arcane financing rules often designed to keep state aid in place, no matter the effect on patient care.

Indeed the NY Times presents the Republican controlled legislature as kind’ve snickering at Governor Spitzer’s naive, brash style in proposing this budget.

The governor warned lawmakers not to spend more than he was proposing, a notion that made some lawmakers roll their eyes.

“I think it’s kind of naïve to think you’re going to give this budget to the Legislature and they’re not going to enhance it in some way,” said James Tedisco, the leader of Republicans in the Assembly.

We’ll see how this plays out.