Hochul intends to propose legislation for New York to join the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact and the Nurse Licensure Compact, which would allow out-of-state providers to relocate to New York and use their existing licenses.
The state has applied for $2.2 billion in federal funding for growing the home- and community-based healthcare workforce, Hochul said.
Industry leaders welcomed Hochul's focus on healthcare staffing. "Her bold plan to get us through the current COVID-19 crisis and then significantly grow the healthcare workforce will ensure that New Yorkers have a strong, vibrant healthcare delivery system for generations to come," said Kenneth Raske, president of the Greater New York Hospital Association, which represents 281 hospitals.
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Eric Linzer, president and CEO of New York Health Plan Association, which covers 28 health insurers, applauded Hochul's proposal to investigate significant price increases by pharmaceutical companies and her commitment to safeguarding patients from surprise medical bills.
Some saw Hochul's goal to grow the health workforce as aligned with their agenda. "We . . . urge the governor to include the Fair Pay for Home Care Act in her executive budget, which would wipe out the state's home care shortage and quickly achieve her goal of growing our healthcare workforce by 20%," said Ilana Berger, co-director of New York Caring Majority, which advocates for a law to ensure higher wages for home care workers.
Some were skeptical about Hochul's plan. "The governor announced a big plan to grow healthcare workers by 20%, but where's that money coming from, and how much should be the state's role in growing that?" asked Bill Hammond, senior fellow for health policy at Empire Center, an Albany-based think tank.
Whenever governors have announced big healthcare spending, state Medicaid funds are typically tapped to foot the bill, Hammond said. "Medicaid is primarily meant to take care of people who need coverage—the poor and the disabled—and our political system keeps treating it as a checking account to fix everything that's wrong with the healthcare system," he said, adding it would likely apply to this multibillion-dollar investment too.
While the plan to simplify the process for out-of-state providers to practice in New York is in the right spirit, its benefit might be limited, Hammond said. "Any move to streamline our onerous licensing system is welcome," he said, "but I believe doctors are not clamoring to move into New York right now."
This story first appeared in our sister publication, Crain's New York Business.