New York, New York – The New York State Nurses Association, representing 42,000 nurses across the state, working with allies, won major victories in the final state budget that was enacted this week. Sustaining patient care in hard hit hospitals, ensuring New Yorkers access to hospital care, and strengthening public health are top priorities and will receive significant funding. These commitments are critical to the on-going battle to defeat the COVID-19 virus.
The enacted budget includes $4.3 billion in new revenues from increased taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers and the most profitable large corporations. This is a concrete step towards a fairer New York tax system that forces the rich to pay their fair share. New York is set to receive $24 billion in direct unrestricted federal funding, enough to beat back austerity measures that were on the table.
The State Essential Plan program, which covers lower income New Yorkers will now no longer require premium contributions or co-pays for dental and eye care. This program is a vital stop gap while we continue the fight to enact the NY Health Plan single payer system.
The budget also included ground-breaking legislation requiring all nursing home owners to spend at least 70% of their revenues on direct patient care, including 40% on staffing, and claws back excess profits and spending on agency staff to encourage hiring more permanent nurses and aides. This could be a model for all health care providers.
One disappointment was the failure to revoke the Global Medicaid Cap, which limits annual increases in Medicaid spending to about 2% per year, but threatens safety net providers and recipients of Medicaid. During the last year enrollment increased by about 800,000 from 6.2 million to 7 million, but spending does not keep pace with costs of care and patient needs.
In addition, the budget did not address the need to target state and federal Indigent Care Pool and DSH funding to the safety net hospitals that provide the most care to the uninsured and Medicaid patients. We will continue the fight to address these structural imbalances.
Other notable budget victories include billions in new funding for public schools and for undocumented workers who were hit hard by the economic and healthcare crisis, green economy programs, and rent relief for those facing evictions and foreclosures.
“This is a beginning in transforming the state budget to serve the real needs of New Yorkers. Significantly, thanks to NYSNA members being visible and vocal, we fought successfully against cuts to vital healthcare programs. The Governor’s austerity cuts were rejected in the final budget around Medicaid reimbursement, preserving more than $100 million for NYC Health + Hospital facilities. Overall, cuts to Medicaid and hospital funding of up to $700 million were averted.” NYSNA President Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, RN
The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) represents more than 42,000 members in New York State. We are New York’s largest union and professional association for registered nurses. For more information, please visit our website at www.nysna.org.