LEGISLATURE FINALIZES $175 BILLION BUDGET; SEVERAL POSITIVE ITEMS FOR PHYSICIANS
Overnight Sunday into Monday morning, the New York State Legislature completed passage of a $175.5 Billion Budget for the 2019-2020 Fiscal Year. The State Budget contained a number of positive items for physicians and their patients in terms of new proposals adopted, and adverse proposals defeated. We thank the many physician leaders and county society staff who took the time to meet, send letters and make phone calls to their local legislators on these issues.
Some of these positive outcomes include:
Perhaps one of the most significant provisions of this section is an expanded "Anti-retaliatory" measure that prohibits a health insurer from taking "any adverse action, including but not limited to refusing to renew or execute a contract or agreement with a health care provider as retaliation against a health care provider for filing a complaint, making a report or commenting to an appropriate governmental body regarding policies or practices of such insurer... "
Other Provisions of Note Include:
Opioid Tax - The final Budget contained a $100 million tax on opioid manufacturers and distributors. Last week, MSSNY, the NYS Academy of Family Physicians and the NY Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians joined patients, pharmacists and several legislators to raise concerns with the possibility that the cost could be passed on to pharmacies, hospitals and, in some cases, patients.
Medicaid Cuts - The proposed 0.8% across-the-board cut in Medicaid payments was not included in the final Budget, however, there is language in one of the Budget bills that provides authority to the state to reduce Medicaid payments during the fiscal year (up to $190 million across the board) in the event of an unexpected drop in revenue such as federal cuts. MSSNY will continue to monitor the potential implementation of this provision.
Health Insurance Exchange - The Budget codified the New York State of Health into law, including its structure for providing health insurance products at the bronze, silver, gold and platinum levels, as well as appealing health plan formulary restrictions. It also sets forth in statute the 10 essential benefits that Exchange plans had been required to cover and assures no prohibitions on coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Workers' Compensation - With a new medical fee schedule to begin Monday, April 1 that will provide long-overdue increases to physicians treating their patients covered by Workers' Compensation (WC), the Legislature and Governor agreed to a WC package that would expand the types of practitioners who can treat and be reimbursed for treating injured worker patients while at the same time seeking to reduce some of the carrier-imposed barriers to injured workers receiving needed medical care and treatment.
MSSNY raised concerns during negotiations regarding the lack of express requirement for some of these professionals to coordinate with a specialized physician for the care of injured workers. While, that concern was not fully addressed. We note that the bill would prohibit these newly listed health care professionals from performing Independent Medical Examinations.
Importantly, the bill also contains provisions designed to reduce delays in injured workers receiving needed treatment, and physicians being paid for delivering this care:
Staff is continuing its review of the thousands of pages of Budget documents and will provide further updates on these and many other issues.
(MSSNY DIVISION OF GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS)
In collaboration with the State Medical Society (MSSNY), MCMS works to ensure physician, patient, and community friendly legislation is passed.
Click the link below to see the full list of position statements by the Medical Society:
Op-Eds Submitted to Local Media
Doctors Deserve the Right to Collectively Negotiate
Patients or Physicians Benefit from One-Sided Medical Liability Bill