money-300x175-7642851Just-disclosed campaign spending by the Greater New York Hospital Association sheds additional light on health-care funding developments in Albany last year.

Filings with the state Board of Elections show that GNYHA Management Corp., an affiliate of the hospital and nursing home group, donated a total of $1.15 million to the “housekeeping” account of the state Democratic Committee in the latter half of 2018.

The contributions, first reported by Crain’s New York, were far out of line with the group’s past pattern (see chart) and made it the party’s largest contributor for the six-month period, which included primary and general elections for all state offices. GNYHA also donated $100,000 to the same account in May.

screen-shot-2019-01-21-at-4-13-19-pm-2998090
Source: Disclosures filed with the NYS Board of Elections (click to enlarge)

The state Democratic Committee is controlled by Governor Cuomo, and spent the bulk of its resources in support of his re-election. The GNYHA donations were not reported until now because they went to the party’s “housekeeping” account – a type of fund-raising vehicle that operates outside the normal rules.

Such committees can accept contributions of any amount (the usual cap on corporate donations is $5,000) and they disclose their finances only twice a year, in January and July. Housekeeping committees are supposed to spend only on “party-building” activities, not campaigns, but the rule is vague and widely skirted.

The seven-figure contribution surge happened not long before GNHYA achieved its top priority in Albany last year, which was securing additional state funding for its members.

Most of GNYHA’s donations arrived in August and October – the time frame when the Cuomo administration was deciding how to spend $2 billion in proceeds from the sale of Fidelis Care to Centene Corp.

The administration’s first allocation of the money, quietly revealed at the end of October, was an across-the-board boost in Medicaid payments to hospitals and nursing homes, many of which are GNYHA members. The move will cost the state an estimated $500 million over three years. With federal matching aid, hospitals and nursing homes statewide will see a total benefit of some $1 billion.

That decision culminated a major lobbying effort by GNYHA and its ally, the health-care labor union 1199 SEIU.

In January, the groups announced a campaign for increased state spending on health-care, in response to threatened cuts by the federal government. Echoing that message, Cuomo’s January budget proposal called for establishing a “Health Care Shortfall Fund” and filling it with revenues gleaned from the insurance industry.

It soon became clear that overall federal health aid to New York would not be cut. But Cuomo pressed his case with support of the Healthcare Education Project, a joint enterprise of 1199 and GNYHA, which reported spending $3.5 million on its ad campaign.

Cuomo ultimately prevailed on Fidelis and Centene to pay the state $2 billion over four years in exchange for approval of their transaction. Instead of a “shortfall” fund, the money went into a “Health Care Transformation Fund,” and the Cuomo administration was given free rein to spend it on any health-related purpose without consulting the Legislature.

The Medicaid rate increases for hospitals and nursing homes were first announced with a notice in the New York State Register on Oct. 31 and took effect on Nov. 1. In amendments to the state Medicaid plan, filed on Dec. 28, officials said they planned across-the-board Medicaid rate increases of 2 percent for hospitals and 1.5 percent for nursing homes.

 

About the Author

Bill Hammond

As the Empire Center’s senior fellow for health policy, Bill Hammond tracks fast-moving developments in New York’s massive health care industry, with a focus on how decisions made in Albany and Washington affect the well-being of patients, providers, taxpayers and the state’s economy.

Read more by Bill Hammond

You may also like

New York State Has Dug Itself Into Its Deepest Hole On Record

"State's Financial Hole Deepens" is the headline on Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's press release accompanying the August cash flow report. Read More

The CDC’s Nursing Home Death Count Is Even Less Complete Than New York’s

The result is that a major public health disaster affecting New York's nursing home residents is not being accurately documented by either of the agencies responsible for protecting them – because state officials are refusing to share the true numbers, and federal officials haven't yet asked for them. Read More

New Yorkers Paid Less in Federal Taxes in First Year of New Federal Tax Law

Federal income taxes paid by New Yorkers decreased by nearly $3.4 billion in 2018, the first year of the new federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), according to newly released Internal Revenue Service data. Read More

The DOJ’s Probe of Coronavirus in Nursing Homes Appears to Leave Out Most Victims

The U.S. Justice Department's newly announced inquiry into coronavirus in New York's nursing homes comes with a crucial caveat: It will look only at government-operated facilities, which represent a small fraction of the state's nursing-home industry. Read More

State’s Per-Recipient Medicaid Spending Rises to 3rd Highest in the U.S.

New York's per-recipient Medicaid spending has soared to the nation's third highest rate, a sign of fiscal trouble for one of the state's most important programs. Read More

New York Medicaid Spending Is Projected to Jump 6% in Fiscal Year 2021 (UPDATED)

Despite a round of cost-cutting this spring, New York's Medicaid spending is on track to jump by 6 percent this year thanks to a massive influx of federal aid. Read More

New York’s Post-Pandemic State Budget Picture Is Looking Worse

Governor Cuomo continues to burn while pols in Washington fiddle around the issue of providing more aid to states and localities in yet another federal stimulus bill. Meanwhile, New York State's plummeting revenues still haven't hit their post-pandemic bottom, according to the First Quarterly Update to the state's FY 2021 Financial Plan. Read More

New York Has Widened Its Lead in Per-Capita Spending on Medicaid

New York's per-capita Medicaid spending soared to more than double the nationwide rate in 2018, widening its gap with the other 49 states. Read More

Subscribe

Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100
Fax: 518-434-3130
E-Mail: info@empirecenter.org

About

The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.