What's New

Zack Hutchins
Director of Communications

January 16, 2002

Lawmakers approve huge health-care spending bill opposed by The Council

State lawmakers have approved hundreds of millions of dollars in new health-care spending intended largely to fund raises for health-care workers. The Business Council opposed the plan.

However, one provision of the original plan to which The Business Council specifically objected, a reduction in state reimbursements to pharmacies for Medicaid prescriptions, was drastically revised in the final bill.

Spending: The bill provides for new spending estimated at $1.7 billion. Government sources said specific spending components of the bill include:

The bill also enable low-income persons with disabilities to join or rejoin the workforce while maintaining their Medicaid coverage. And it will continue funding for the Elderly Prescription Insurance Coverage (EPIC) program, which funds reductions in prescription-drug costs for senior citizens.

Sources of funding: Lawmakers cited a number of sources of funds they said would pay for the spending. These sources include:

The Council's opposition: The Business Council wrote to Governor Pataki and legislative leaders last week as reports of the privately negotiated health-care bill surfaced. In its letter The Council argued, specifically, that the proposal would:

The Council also argued that the originally reported proposal would undermine patient access to cost-effective medicines by raising costs for pharmacies by reducing Medicaid reimbursement rates for Medicaid prescriptions. The final bill did not include this reimbursement reduction.

The approved bill does not include any measures, such as those proposed last year by Sen. James Seward and Assemblyman Joseph Morelle, to enable sole proprietors to buy health insurance through business associations at rates now available to groups of between two and 50 employees. Both The Business Council and its affiliate, The Chamber Alliance of New York State, have supported this idea.