The New York state Legislature has overwhelmingly passed a bill seeking to redefine safety net hospitals and ensure that those serving the poorest patients get a fair share of Medicaid funding.
Fifteen state senators sponsored and co-sponsored legislation that makes straightforward changes to the supplemental reimbursement rate adjustments paid to safety net hospitals and places stricter requirements for those hospitals that receive a bigger slice of the funding pie.
“The funding that goes to these types of institutions must match the patients that they serve,” said Sen. Gustavo Rivera, a Democrat. “The institutions that are struggling the most should receive the funding that corresponds.”
The bill overwhelmingly passed both chambers of the New York state legislature this term, and is now being reviewed by counsel's office before heading to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's desk.
Under the new terms, 50% of an enhanced safety net hospital's patients must be on Medicaid or medically uninsured. In addition, 40% of its inpatient discharges have to be covered by Medicaid, and no more than 25% of its discharged patients can be commercially insured, according to the legislation. The legislation also requires these hospitals to either be a public health system or federally designated as a critical access or sole community hospital.
Several unions and hospitals supported the measure, with NYC Health & Hospitals—the largest healthcare provider for these populations in the city—noting this will promote fairer distribution of Medicaid funds.
“Medicaid payments continue to fall short in covering costs for appropriate healthcare services,” a NYC H&H spokesperson said.
Democratic Sen. Kevin Parker, one of the 14 co-sponsors of Republican Sen. Kemp Hannon's bill, said the proposal would be funded through next year's budget cycle and it reflects the shift in medical delivery from large hospitals to primary care and outpatient services.
“We have, to this point, not done an adequate job from the state perspective of managing that transition,” Parker said. “This bill is intended to help that process, particularly in the low-income communities that are hit hardest by this change.”
Cuomo's office did not respond to a request for comment on the bill.
Even if Cuomo vetoes the bill, Rivera said Democrats would continue to push for the Medicaid changes in the next legislative term.
“I haven't heard anything negative, which is good,” he said.
Currently, the Democrats are one away from wresting the Senate majority from Republicans, and Rivera—the ranking member—hopes he will lead the health committee and continue this fight if the balance shifts after the next election.