Honorable Andrea Stewart-Cousins
Senate Majority Leader
Room 907 LOB
Albany, NY 12247
Honorable Carl Heastie
Room 932 LOB
Albany, NY 12247
Dear Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Heastie:
The New York Daily News recently reported1 that the new Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT II) could consider expanding last year’s $100 million tax on prescription opioids to other medications. We write today to express our opposition to any effort that imposes new taxes on prescription medications, and respectfully request your leadership in addressing our concerns during the current legislative session.
The opioid tax went into effect in July 1, 2019, and while it was originally intended to be dedicated toward programs that lessen and mitigate opioid abuse, the final enactment directed all revenue to the General Fund. Given this year’s $6 billion budget deficit and the Governor’s directive that the MRT II look for “new resources” to fill that gap, we are gravely concerned that this imprudent tax will be expanded to other medications.
Just as many warned, the enactment of the opioid tax sets a dangerous precedent resulting in less access and more costs for patients who rely on these important medications. These outcomes are unacceptable, especially as New York lawmakers aim to lower healthcare and prescription drug costs.
Healthcare costs remain one of the biggest burdens our businesses face. In fact, according to a recent report by the NYS Health Foundation, per-person spending on health care in New York has consistently been higher than the national average, and the gap is growing.
Taxes, like the opioid tax, only make things more difficult for businesses, increasing the price of health insurance further and harming employees. Not to mention the devastating impacts it is beginning to have on many healthcare facilities—some of the largest job creators in communities throughout our state.
The business community respectfully requests that the MRT II and lawmakers reject any policy that taxes a legitimate pharmaceutical product. This session, we encourage you to work alongside the healthcare and business communities to implement policies that ensure responsible funding for needed government programs while avoiding the imposition of additional costs on the business and patient communities.
Thank you for your consideration of our perspective and we look forward to working with you to address our concerns during this session.
The Business Council of New York State
North Country Chamber of Commerce
Rockland Business Association
Capitol Region Chamber
Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce
Seneca County Chamber of Commerce
Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce
Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce
Cortland County Chamber of Commerce
The Business Council of Westchester
1. "Cuomo’s Medicaid Plan Causes Fear of Service Cuts and a Hike in Health Insurance Taxes,” retrieved from: https://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ny-cuomo-medicaid-budget-20200122-ay7ivs7yrjdmdk2huehkoiol6a-story.html