1199SEIU/GNYHA Response to Final Budget Agreement

By George Gresham & Kenneth E. Raske | April 19, 2024

The final budget agreement represents a significant improvement from Governor Hochul’s initial proposal—which contained over $1 billion in Medicaid cuts—and highlights the immense importance of our ongoing Medicaid Equity campaign. The New York State Legislature clearly heard the voices of their constituents, tens of thousands of whom made calls, wrote letters, and told their healthcare stories in the halls of our state Capitol and on the airwaves.

This budget represents a meaningful first step towards reducing and ultimately eliminating the Medicaid coverage gap. Thanks to the advocacy of Speaker Carl Heastie and Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, it includes a vitally needed $800 million in support for struggling safety net institutions. We are also very encouraged that the State will pursue Federal approval for a managed care organization tax, which is an essential building block for an adequately funded Medicaid system. But this budget is not perfect—the downpayment on a Medicaid rate increase is less than what is truly needed to ensure access for Medicaid consumers and safeguard standards for quality care.

We are also grateful that the final agreement rejected cuts to wages for home care workers and care for home care consumers, instead finding savings in unnecessary administrative costs. While the transition to a new home care system will be challenging, we will work tirelessly to ensure that the voices of home care workers and consumers are heard and that mission-driven providers remain an important part of service delivery and consumer support.

Medicaid Equity is a moral and racial justice issue. This is why health advocates, Medicaid patients, frontline caregivers, and hundreds of ministers, priests, rabbis, imams, and others from New York’s faith communities have joined together to fight for it. As we have said from Day 1, the effort to reduce health care disparities in low-income communities and end Medicaid underpayments to hospitals and nursing homes will be a difficult, multi-year effort. This budget is only the beginning, and we will not rest until health care justice is achieved.

George Gresham, President, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East

Kenneth E. Raske, President, Greater New York Hospital Association