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Government Affairs Albany Update

May 28, 2004

Bridges to Excellence Launches in Capital District

The nation's largest employer-sponsored effort to reward physicians for delivering high-quality care added a new incentive program and a new city to the year-old initiative. The Bridges to Excellence coalition introduced the Physician Office Link (POL) program. The existing program focused on diabetes care. POL offers doctors an annual bonus payment for adopting information technology (IT) systems to help manage and improve patient care within their practices.

Bridges to Excellence also made its entire program, including Cardiac Care Link (CCL) available to physicians in New York's Capital District region, for the first time.

Bridges to Excellence was created last year to recognize and reward physicians who provide high quality care and/or adopt systems that promote quality. The coalition includes several national large employers such as General Electric, Procter & Gamble, Raytheon, Verizon, United Parcel Service and Ford. In addition to Boston and New York's Capital District, participating regions include Cincinnati, Ohio and Louisville, Kentucky.

The Capital region is the first region to have all three Bridges' programs - POL, Diabetes Care Link and for the first time, Cardiac Care Link (CCL). The CCL program is focused on improving the quality of care for patients with cardiovascular disease. The annual per patient bonus for being recognized by the Heart Stroke Recognition Program* is up to $160. This New York region is home to about 50,000 employees and dependents of companies involved in the BTE effort, including an estimated 2,000 people with diabetes and 1,000 individuals who have suffered a stroke or heart attack. Thus, the potential incentive pool for the area is nearly $3 million.

Farrell/Brodsky Empire Zone Proposal

Assemblymen Denny Farrell and Richard Brodsky, who respectively chair the Ways and Means and Corporations Committees, have called on Empire State Development Corporation to make a number of immediate, administrative changes to the Empire Zone program. Their recommendations were laid out in a joint letter to ESD Chairman Charles Gargano. Farrell and Brodsky propose that ESD require:

In addition, the Assemblymen issued a chart ostensibly illustrating the existing statutory authority for each of these proposed changes. For the most part, they cite general statutory authority to adopt regulations.

The Business Council is developing a detailed response to these new proposals.

Revised Withholding Tax Field Audit Guidelines Previewed

At The Business Council's Conference On State Taxation (COST), the Department of Taxation & Finance previewed Revised Withholding Tax Field Audit Guidelines; the Department's current plan is to adopt the revised guidelines presently.

Proposed changes include: