This column has always been a great place for legislative updates, and Jerry Hoffman would want me to spend some time on our current legislative environment.
I reached out to several healthcare leaders and asked what’s keeping them up at night for the next budget year. My sense is their annual list of concerns is lengthened due to the large gap created in the budget between state and federal funding for Medicaid care in New York state.
Clinicians often engage with the state budget due to malpractice and insurance reforms. While important, issues that impact the environments in which their patients receive care and in which they practice are equally important.
The American Medical Association, which primarily advocates for clinicians, notes its key areas of advocacy as public health, access to care, patent reform, reduction in administrative burdens and judicial advocacy for physicians and patients. They recommend clinicians use their voices as leaders in their communities. Patients denied access to care, particularly underserved communities in poverty, see higher rates of chronic illness and lower life expectancies.
This coming year changes to reimbursement and funding to Medicaid programs may threaten critical community-based services and bills to mandate staffing levels threaten many healthcare providers.
The national debate swirls around the future structure of access and coverage.
In the meantime, providers must help patients every day. Those patients are often struggling with insurance costs, medication costs and access to specialty care.
We all see the impact of drug abuse and addiction among young people and we need to advocate for increased funding for access to treatment and community care.
Pay attention during the next few months and use your voice and your professional associations to raise concerns about these reductions and changes to funding for critical services. Talk to legislators, email their offices and let your voice be heard.
You can reach out to Kathryn Ruscitto on LinkedIn or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.