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  • State Update

    The New York State legislative session ended June 23, 2017 with hospitals achieving victories in key policy and legislative areas. The efforts of HANYS, the Suburban Hospital Alliance and other regional advocates were able to thwart advancement of many harmful medical malpractice bills. However, one bill, which expands the stature of limitations under which a malpractice suit can be filed for up to 10 years, did pass both houses. The bill, known as Laverne’s Law, was reportedly intended only to cover cancer cases, but the language of the legislation is ambiguous. Suburban Hospital Alliance leaders and HANYS policy staff continues to work with the governor’s office to clarify the language to ensure it is clear about its limitation to cancer cases.

    Advocacy efforts were also successful in opposing harmful nurse staffing ratio bills and a physician collective bargaining bill. Legislation supported by the hospital industry and passed by both houses includes the “BSN in 10” bill (requirement that registered nurses achieve bachelor degrees within 10 years of beginning practice), and legislation ensuring that managed care plans must cover NICU bills without requiring a prior authorization.

     

    Federal Update

    Passage of a revised Senate bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act could happen before July ends. Just released revisions to the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) maintain extremely harmful Medicaid cuts and language that would fundamentally re-structure the Medicaid program. Fifty votes are needed to pass the bill in the Senate. It is too soon to tell how much support the revised bill has, but the conservative and moderate factions of the Republican Party will likely continue to have different priorities, once the details of the revised bill are analyzed.

    The initial BCRA and now this revised version are significantly worse than the House-backed American Health Care Act that passed that chamber in May. The proposal to block grant the Medicaid program through a per-capita program is particularly harmful to hospitals, New York State’s budget, and most importantly, the state’s poor and disabled children, adults, and elderly. Further, it allows states to apply for waivers to end the ban on lifetime caps and essential health benefit coverage.

    An amendment by Senator Ted Cruz would establish two-tier health plans – ones that contain essential health benefits and ones that do not. The theory behind the amendment is that younger and healthier individuals would be enticed to buy the cheaper, bare bones plans. But economists say premiums for sicker people would balloon because a disproportionate amount of those with pre-existing conditions and other ailments would purchase the more comprehensive coverage and push up the premium price.

    The Senate has delayed its August recess by two weeks in an effort to get healthcare reform done. Congress wants to complete work on healthcare so it can move on to tax reform and an infrastructure bill. Congress must also take action by the end of September to raise the debt ceiling threshold and extend several health care provisions, including reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program.