January 3 marked the start of New York State’s 2018 legislative session. In Albany, Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered his annual “State of the State” address to lawmakers after brief pro forma meetings of the Assembly and Senate.

Facing a roughly $4 billion State budget deficit, Governor Cuomo framed his program as a response to a “federal assault on New York” that includes a $2 billion direct cut from Washington, DC—primarily to health care. While this presents a major challenge, the Governor called health care a human right” and pledged to preserve Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program and to keep the health care industry strong.

The Governor said the new Federal tax reform bill would exacerbate income inequality and increase property taxes by limiting state and local tax deductions. He pledged to sue the Federal government and pursue a tax restructuring plan, close the carried interest loophole, and deliver relief to the middle class.

Governor Cuomo outlined the State’s efforts to provide relief to those in Puerto Rico affected by Hurricane María. He thanked various groups, including GNYHA, for helping to deliver care to people on the island.

Specific proposals the Governor set out would:

  • Require voluntary hospitals to include budgets and detailed descriptions of community health improvement interventions in their community service plans
  • Protect health care consumers by expanding awareness of hospital financial assistance policies, limiting abusive debt collection policies, simplifying medical billing, and creating a database of coverage denials
  • Require Medicaid to cover telehealth services in patient homes
  • Expand the Minority- and Women-Owned Business Program to all State-funded contracts
  • Confront opioid addiction by holding the pharmaceutical industry accountable, limiting opioid refills for acute pain to seven days without an in-person visit (and for patients with chronic pain who have not previously used opioids), requiring emergency department physicians to consult the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program database, and establishing a statewide Pain Management Steering Committee

GNYHA expects the Administration to provide further details on these proposals in the Executive budget, which must be released by January 16, and during the remainder of the session.