Statewide Alliance of Nearly 100 Community and Patient Groups Demand that Governor Kathy Hochul End Medicaid Funding Crisis

By New York Alliance for Healthcare Justice | March 15, 2024

Coalition Applauds State Leaders for One-House Budget Proposals that Put State on Path to Fully Funding Medicaid

New York, New York – Today, a coalition representing a diverse alliance of nearly 100 patient groups, representing hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers from across the state, and community advocates delivered an open letter to the Governor’s office in Manhattan to demand that Governor Hochul address New York’s dire Medicaid funding crisis by raising the Medicaid reimbursement rate for hospitals and nursing homes.

In response to the New York State Senate and Assembly one-house budget resolutions, the coalition also applauded the move that puts the State on a path to fully funding Medicaid by prioritizing a crucial Medicaid reimbursement rate increase for hospitals and eliminating Governor Hochul’s proposed healthcare cuts. They are now calling on the Governor to finalize a budget that accomplishes these priorities.

The community advocates and patient groups join a growing number of faith leaders as members of the New York Alliance for Healthcare Justice (NYAHJ), a coalition of New Yorkers led by 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and Greater New York Hospital Association, to pressure state leaders to close the Medicaid funding gap.

More than 4.2 million New York City residents rely on Medicaid for their healthcare. Even though Medicaid provides vital coverage to these New Yorkers, the state pays hospitals 30% less than the actual cost of care and 24% less to nursing homes. As a result of this underfunding, hospitals in New York continue to struggle financially more than in the rest of the U.S, and cannot invest in programs and services for the patients they serve. In New York City, Medicaid underfunding has exacerbated issues for safety-net hospitals in particular, as illustrated by the pending closure of Manhattan’s Mount Sinai Beth Israel.

“Maintaining health, addressing illness, and reducing health disparities are among my most important objectives as a physician. I have had the opportunity to care for many people who were supported by the Medicaid program. And I am well versed at working within the margins to assure that patients’ needs are met without costly ED visits or readmissions. But now, more than ever, patients are at risk of losing this care, and our state faces ever-widening yet preventable health disparities that affect Black and Latino communities and the most vulnerable. We need to fully fund Medicaid to end the threat of losing hospitals and the health services that allow us to care for all New Yorkers. I applaud the leadership of the state Senate and Assembly for their budget proposal that puts us on this path,” said Judith Flores, MD, FAAP, CHCQM, National Hispanic Medical Association, and former Chief of Ambulatory Care Departments at NYC Health + Hospitals institutions, including Woodhull Medical Center.

“For decades, Medicaid underpayments have created unacceptable health disparities among the vulnerable people we serve, especially in the Latino community, where we face worse health outcomes, shorter life expectancies, and higher rates of infant mortality. Our clients cannot get the help they need, because the frontline hospitals in their neighborhoods are underfunded. They can’t find treatment in their communities. We need Governor Hochul to join our movement for Medicaid equity to put us on a path to end these systemic issues. Our representatives in the legislature have put forth a budget that shows us they see the need. Now it’s time for you to step up and fix this injustice,” said Roxanne Marin, MA, FDC, Regional Director of Centro Civico in Albany.

“Medicaid serves as a lifeline for street homeless individuals grappling with substance abuse disorders. It allows them to access critical healthcare services, including addiction treatment, mental health support, and primary care. But inadequate funding has resulted in a shortage of providers and limited access to these essential services. We applaud the Senate and Assembly for prioritizing fully funding Medicaid in this year’s budget. It is crucial for the well-being of our community,” said Ciara McGillivray, Director of Community Health at the Father Tracy Advocacy Center in Rochester, which serves street homeless individuals and people grappling with substance abuse issues.

“New York has one of the largest populations of sickle cell sufferers in the United States. We have to endure its painful and psychological effects every day, and many of us end up in the hospital for prolonged admissions or receive lifelong treatments and therapies that are simply too costly for any one individual. That’s why Medicaid is so crucially important to our community. Having a fully funded program will provide warriors with healthier, longer lives. We urge Governor Hochul to join the legislature and fully fund Medicaid to give hope to thousands of New Yorkers,” said Juanita McClain, President of Sickle Cell Warriors of Buffalo.

New York State’s chronic underfunding of Medicaid negatively affects health outcomes for Black and Latino communities across New York City, as well as low-income seniors, expectant mothers, young children from low-income families, and people with disabilities. For example, while Medicaid covers 50% of births in New York, women covered by Medicaid accounted for 61% of pregnancy-associated deaths in 2018, with Black women experiencing significantly higher mortality rates than other races. Infant mortality rates for Blacks and Latinos are also higher than for whites.

Unequal access to healthcare also continues to drive disparities in lifespan citywide. For example, a person living in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan is expected to live 14 years longer than someone living in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn. These disparities have only continued to worsen: according to the City’s own Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the largest declines in life expectancy citywide have been among Black and Latino New Yorkers in recent years.

“When I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in June 2016, I was devastated. I am someone who eats well, exercises, and I always attend my doctor’s appointments. No one in my family had any previous history with cancer,” said Gretchen Jefferson, an administrator at New Life Tabernacle Church in Brooklyn, who shares her story in a forthcoming ad, produced by the Healthcare Education Project. “Thankfully, I had my faith, I had my community, and I had Medicaid. Without Medicaid, I wouldn’t have been able to afford my healthcare, which is why I’m so disappointed in Governor Hochul for pursuing cuts to this program. Governor Hochul, you need to fully fund Medicaid.”

“I have cerebral palsy spastic quadriplegia, so I ambulate by wheelchair, and I use my leg braces to help me stand and walk. But durable medical equipment is under attack because Medicaid reimburses vendors at 30 to 40 percent of the cost of equipment, a rate that has not been adjusted since 1987. My leg braces are shredding after a couple months, and recently my wheelchair casters chunked out, which caused me to fall and hit my head on the concrete,” said Latavia Sturdivant, an adjunct lecturer at Lehman College and a Yonkers-based speech pathologist. “I’m asking to increase Medicaid rates, and I’m asking them to be increased now, because without our durable medical equipment, the ably different community cannot be productive members of society. If our vendors close down, what are we going to be able to do? What am I going to be able to do?”

Other localities statewide in Syracuse, Buffalo, and Rochester are seeing the outcomes of healthcare inequities firsthand, as a broad coalition of state legislative leaders, hospital representatives, and healthcare advocates and workers have held press conferences in recent months to urge Governor Kathy Hochul to fully fund Medicaid. In January, faith leaders from across the state rallied at the Capitol as over 200 faith leaders signed on to a letter calling on the Governor to end the Medicaid funding crisis. A majority of Democratic legislators in New York have indicated that they support fully funding Medicaid. Recently in an op-ed in the Buffalo News, Reverend Mark Blue, president of the NAACP’s Buffalo Chapter, pressed Governor Hochul to end the Medicaid funding crisis.

By raising Medicaid rates to cover the cost of hospital services over the next four years, New York can eliminate the Medicaid funding gap and reduce the resulting care gaps and health disparities for the 40% of New Yorkers covered by the Medicaid Health Insurance program. This will not only stabilize hospitals across the state but also allow them to invest and grow critical services needed to treat the most vulnerable New Yorkers.


Aggie Lane, Urban Jobs Task Force

Al-amin Muhammad, We Rise Above The Streets Recovery Outreach

Allyson Martinez, Brooklyn Level Up

Amy Grover, Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists

Ana Melendez, DOT Strategies LLC

Angie Gonzalez, NAICA

Anika Stewart, Witness Project of Long Island

Anita A Bono, Cornell Cooperative Extension Onondaga County

Anthony Joiner, In the Beginning Outreach Inc.

Ayodele Oliver, St. John’s Episcopal Hospital

Belkys De Leon, Spanish Action League of Onondaga County

Bernice Rivera, New York State United Teachers (NYSUT)

Bertha H Motta, Personal Touch Home Care and Sunnyside Community Services

Camryn Corbett, Syracuse-Onondaga Food Systems Alliance

Carlos Martin, VIP Services

Catalina Mendiola, NYC Children ACS

Charlene Batts, Unity & Family Opportunity. Inc

Charles Anderson, 100 Black Men of Syracuse

Christy Harvey, VNS Health

Christy Harvey, VNS Health

Claire L. Walker, AIM Independent Living Center/OASAS Programs

Connie Marple, Women of Color New York

Crescenzo Scipione, Metro Justice of Rochester

Dr. Daniel Ryan

Dr. Oliver Durrah, Neighborhood Technical Assistance Clinic (NTAC)

Elisa DeJesus, Ibero-American Action League, Inc.

Elizabeth Gill, 47PCC

Elizabeth Gostev

Elizabeth Mackey, Vocal NY

Elizabeth McGriff, City-Wide Tenants Union

Frieda Weeks, Hope for Heather

Gabriela Silverio, Bridge Builders

Gladys Jennerjahn, AIDS Center of Queens County

Gwendolyn Muok, Syracuse Onondaga County NAACP

Heather Butts, H.E.A.L.T.H. For Youths

Holly Lowery-Davis, Soma Coach Holly LLC

Iliana Almanzar, LiveOnNY

Iola Washington, Empowering Women and Young Girls Service Center

Jackie Dozier, Common Ground Health

Jalil Muntaqim, Citizen Action of New York

James Moise, Hike & Meditate

Jesse Scott, Word of Life Ministries Inc.

Jessi Lyons, Brady Faith Center

Jessica Fernandez, New York City Department of Education

Jessica Miller, Kitchen Literacy Project

John Williams, New Creation Ministries Inc

Juanita McClain, Sickle Cell Warriors of Buffalo

Judith Flores MD, National Hispanic Medical Association

Julissa Figueroa, Morris Heights Health Center

Karen Aguilar, The Salvation Army, Jamaica Queens

Kassandra Campbell, Jamaica Benevolent Arm and Cultural Center

Katie Tastrom

Katrina DeLeeJones, Shades Of Inspiration Inc.

Kimberly A. Byers, RocACTS, Voting Rights Task Force Chair

Kirby Briggs, Kirby’s Korner Inc.

Laurie Mahoney, Mahoney Group

Leah Angel Daniel, Fostering Greatness Inc.

Leesa Kelley, Hematology Oncology Associates of CNY

Linda L. Clark, MD, MS, Jordan Health

Lisa Hart, MSEd, BSN, RN, CCM, CHES, Syracuse Housing Authority

Mable Wilson, Syracuse Grows

Maria E Ponce Sevilla, Transnational Villages Network-Red de Pueblos Trasnacionales

Maria Ponce Sevilla, Transnational Villages Network – Red de Pueblos Trasnacionales

Mariana Lopez, Centro Comunitaro Hispano

Marileidy Pimentel, We Act

Mary Carney, Mary Carney Consulting

Mary Martinez, Lead Poisoning Prevention and Treatment Project – Montefiore Medical Center

Melanie Littlejohn, Central New York Community Foundation

Merlene Smith-Sotillo, Sickle Cell Awareness Foundation Corp. International

Merlene Smith-Sotillo, Sickle Cell Awareness Foundation Corp. International

Miguel Rios, Safe Horizon

Molly McNulty, University of Rochester Public Health Program

Monique Fitzgerald, Long Island Progressive Coalition

Nancy Aureli, BS, RN, Community Living Advocates

Nathaly Rubio-Torio, Voces Latinas

Nolan Reeves, Salt City Harvest Farm

Raheela Aslam, New Life Minority Human Rights Council Inc.

Raquel Queme, Southside United HDFC – Los Sures

Raymond Luebbert, SOFSA

Rebecca Garden

Rebecca Garofano, Syracuse City School District

Rhonda Vesey, Food Access Healthy Neighborhoods Now! (FAHNN)

Robin Kelly, Moriah City Community Food Pantry

Ronnie Hector, SUNY Bronx Educational Opportunity Center

Ronnie R. Hector, SUNY Bronx Educational Opportunity Center

Rosanna Santana, S&A Unified Home Care

Roxanne Marin, MA, FDC., Centro Civico / Ibero-America Action League

Ruthie Young, 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East

Sabrina Thomson, ACS

Sara Wall Bollinger, New York State Association for Rural Health, Inc.

Shirley E. Coverdale, Family Community Life Center, Inc.

Shirley Leyro, Birth Justice Defenders

Silvia Ross, Health, Life & Love Inc.

Sonya Hawkibs, Safe, Inc

Tanisha Franks, Mothers Against Senseless Killings Staten Island (M.A.S.K)

Tasha Hudson, Bethel Northside

Winnifred Grant, Women’s Empowerment Inc.

About the Healthcare Education Project

The New York Alliance for Healthcare Justice (NYAHJ) is dedicated to ensuring that Medicaid reimbursements cover the full cost of care, so that all New Yorkers have access to quality health care. NYAHJ is an initiative through the Healthcare Education Project (HEP), a community-based advocacy organization working to protect and expand access to quality, affordable healthcare for all Americans through education, advocacy, and coalition building. HEP is a joint effort of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and the Greater New York Hospital Association, founded in 1999.

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