Medicaid

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The future of the Affordable Care Act is uncertain in Washington, and there are several scenarios under consideration. The latest possible changes could affect New York’s relatively healthy health care system.

The good news is that the Affordable Care Act in New York is doing quite well, according to state officials. The health insurance exchanges are functioning, with 17 carriers offering plans in 2017. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, at a recent rally to preserve the ACA, said New York has built “one of the best health care exchanges in the country.”

IQ2US

Imagine getting a check from the government every month. $600 guaranteed. It’s happening in Finland, where a pilot program is being launched to test what’s known as a “universal basic income.” This week, we debate that reality.

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Barb Emerson lives in a big, Victorian house with mauve-colored wood siding. It's in Gorham, New York, between Seneca and Canandaigua Lakes. And this week, she's taking care of her husband, Louis. He just had knee surgery.

"We gotta keep that leg straight, so I have to hold on to that leg for him all the time," she said as she walked onto her porch.

The Emersons have been married for 34 years. "I got a good one," Louis said.

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The New York State Legislature finally ended its 2017 session, after the Assembly voted overnight on a privately negotiated omnibus bill, and the Senate finally finished on Thursday afternoon. The messy process drew condemnation from both sides of the aisle.

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The New York State Legislature is back at the Capitol for three weeks of meetings before the session ends later in June. A number of advocacy groups say there’s an opportunity for lawmakers to act to address some of the harm that they say President Donald Trump’s policies are causing. But divisions in the Legislature may hinder any chance of achievements.

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How the Republican health care bill could play out would look different from state to state. Some states would pursue waivers, meaning they wouldn’t need to cover certain health services. Others, like New York, are not expected to pursue the option to drop coverage programs – but still, the proposed federal budget cuts may force some difficult decisions.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Green Party candidates in Syracuse are pushing state Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) to support universal health care in New York. The bill could be close to getting a majority of senators to sign on.

Syracuse mayoral candidate Howie Hawkins said DeFrancisco is the only New York state legislator representing the city that is not in favor of a single-payer system.

“We want John to be a hero for Syracuse, because this bill would solve the city’s fiscal crisis,” Hawkins said.

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Medical students graduating from SUNY Upstate Medical University this spring now move to their residencies, with the goal of someday becoming a physician. Some have made a promise to keep in mind the most needy patients once they start practicing.

Medicaid provides health coverage for low-income adults and children, elderly adults and people with disabilities. Reimbursement rates are historically low, and some estimates say one-third of all physicians don’t accept Medicaid patients because of that. 

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New York’s Democratic congressional delegation is pushing a measure to prevent federal Medicaid funding cuts to the state.

Several Democratic representatives, along with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, want the state to take over the cost of counties’ Medicaid bills, but want the federal government to provide the $2.3 billion to pay for it.

“This is about fundamental fairness,” said Cuomo, who said the state gives more money in tax dollars to Washington than it gets back in services.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Proponents of raising taxes on New York’s wealthiest say they have a new impetus to increase the state’s revenue — the continued bad news from Washington about deep federal cuts to health care and other areas.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has called an amendment to the federal repeal of the Affordable Care Act that would force the state to pick up county Medicaid costs “unconscionable.”

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A provision to shift Medicaid health care costs in New York from counties to the state as part of the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act by Congress is meeting with a cool reception from state leaders.

Bret Jaspers / WSKG News

As Congress attempts to change the Affordable Care Act, members are facing questions in their districts about how they come down on the new health care bill being pushed by House Speaker Paul Ryan and the Trump administration.  

Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford) says she hasn’t made a decision yet on the new bill, the American Health Care Act.

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New York’s health care system is bracing for big changes to the Affordable Care Act. No one knows for certain how it will be altered, but it will almost certainly cost the state a significant amount of money.

nystateofhealth.ny.gov

Today is the open enrollment deadline for anyone who wants to sign up for private health insurance through New York’s marketplace program called the New York State of Health. Navigators with ACR Health in Syracuse continue signing up individuals for health care plans, in the shadow of a potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

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Some state lawmakers are rejecting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to extend a tax on millionaires. Cuomo spent Tuesday rolling out his spending plan to individual groups of lawmakers in private briefings, then at night, released details to the public.

Courtesy David Irish

In Betsy Irish’s room, it’s all about the music. There is a big boom box in the corner, framed CD jackets and a special box just for Christmas music.

She’s hanging out with her dad, David Irish, at her group house in a suburb of Rochester. They’re doing one of their usual activities — reading the dictionary.

“L is for letter,” she says.

“That’s what the mailman brings, a letter,” her father answers. “You could write a letter.”

“To?” she responds.

“Who you going to write to?” he eggs her on.

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President-elect Donald Trump has promised to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act — also known as Obamacare — and replace it with something else. While no one really knows what that means, one health care analyst with a prominent Albany think tank said New York could be billions of dollars in the hole as a result.

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Onondaga County Comptroller Robert Antonacci is speaking out against the Consensus CNY commission’s preliminary report on local government consolidation released earlier this year. 

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Updated at 3:25 p.m.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders appear to have reached an impasse in talks on the state budget, as the March 31 deadline looms.

State Senate leaders abruptly left a nearly two-hour, closed-door meeting with Cuomo, saying that unfortunately, they had nothing new to report.

“We are not there, we’ll get there, but we are not finalized,” said Senate GOP Leader John Flanagan.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie says Cuomo’s plan to require New York City to pay a higher share of Medicaid costs remains a sticking point.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) is pushing for legislation to give the developmentally disabled more living options. He is proposing to give those living at home the same benefits that those in institutional care get. The disabled may currently be paying high out-of-pocket insurance costs for in-home services because of how current laws operate.

Anthony Tassarotti / WMHT

A New York congressman recently announced that he’s taken the first steps toward running for governor in 2018. Rep. Chris Gibson, a Republican, would likely face Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, who’s already said he wants to seek a third term. Karen DeWitt sat down with Gibson at his home to ask him why he’s starting so early.

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A budget watch dog group is giving Gov. Andrew Cuomo a mixed grade on his budget proposals, saying he’s done a good job reigning in spending, but is making a mistake by shifting some significant costs to New York City.

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Health care advocacy organizations are calling for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a bill on his desk that would help ensure doctors have the ultimate say over what medications their patients take.  

If your doctor prescribes a medication, your insurance will cover it. Right? That concept is called “provider prevails.” In other words, the medical provider gets to be the judge about what drugs the patient should take.

That authority particularly matters for people living with AIDS, epilepsy, and certain mental health conditions who take expensive medications.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

There was no cake, but Medicare’s 50th birthday was serenaded by a few dozen Central New Yorkers in downtown Syracuse Thursday. 

Medicare and Medicaid were signed into law in 1965, and have been providing medical care for the poor and elderly ever since.  Robert O’Connor of Onondaga County’s AARP, says the milestone is worth noting.

nystateofhealth.ny.gov

  Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the New York State of Health marketplace has reached a milestone. 

Of the more than two million New Yorkers who have signed up for health insurance since the Affordable Care Act went into effect in 2013, more than 400,000 signed up during the current open enrollment period.

The vast majority of them — some 89 percent –are new to health insurance.

Many of the state’s low-income population have turned to the health marketplace. Nearly two-thirds of total enrollees are on Medicaid. The remainder signed up for private insurance plans.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) is pushing for a new tax-advantaged savings account that will help families with disabilities. Schumer visited Syracuse to offer support to families that are looking for passage of the Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE, Act.

March 31 was the busiest day for New York's new health insurance marketplace. It was also the final day of the six month open enrollment period.

Almost 470,000 people visited the site and 39,000 signed up on that last day, according to the state's exchange, to bring the total to 926,000 enrolled.

Those newly covered signed up for a combination of the expanded federal Medicaid program, Child Health Plus, or a private provider.

The exchange is crediting its early success in enrollment with a functioning website, something the federal exchange was plagued with.

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It’s a drizzly day in Cortland. Joyce Dowd is leaning against the bus stop shelter in front of the courthouse waiting for the number 5.

Today’s like every day – Dowd catches the 2:30 bus to head about 15 miles down the road.  

"My daughter lives at the trailer park there," says Dowd. "But I go to Cincinnatus because she works at the dollar store and I go out there and see her a lot.”

There's only a week left in the enrollment period for people to sign up to get health care through the Affordable Care Act. But there’s been a steady flow of central New Yorkers signing up for insurance policies through the New York exchanges in advance of that deadline.

ACR Health in Syracuse has been helping people in a nine-county area sign on to plans. Community Health Director Steve Wood says things have been going well so far, with 3,500 people covered by health insurance who weren’t before.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

The Oswego County Legislature is joining several other counties across New York to oppose Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed property tax freeze plan. They voted to support another option proposed by the New York State Association of Counties, to eliminate the cost of state funded mandates instead. The final vote was 16 to 8, with 1 absentee.

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