New revisions to a proposed single-payer health plan for New York State would add tens of billions dollars to the already enormous price tag – and further hinder the state's ability to control costs going forward.
Obamacare enrollment is rising in New York – an exception to the national trend – but not by as much as state officials are implying.
Just-disclosed campaign spending by the Greater New York Hospital Association sheds additional light on health-related developments in Albany last year.
Health care was the dog that did not bark at Governor Cuomo's combined State of State and budget address on Tuesday. Instead of announcing a major plan to expand coverage, he called for appointing a commission to study "options for achieving universal access" and report back by December – a clear sign that he has no stomach for tackling the issue in this session.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio made a splash this morning by announcing a plan "to guarantee health care" for every city resident. Although his office called it "the largest, most comprehensive plan in the nation," the proposal appears – based on limited details provided so far – to be a relatively modest expansion of existing safety-net programs.
If the entire Affordable Care Act were struck down as unconstitutional – as a federal judge ruled on Friday – the consequences for New York's health-care system, and the state budget, would be significant. Assuming the decision is upheld on appeal (which many experts doubt), and assuming Congress does not intervene, the state would lose almost $8 billion in federal aid that subsidizes coverage for more than 4 million residents.
The New York City Council's vote of support on Tuesday for a statewide single-payer health plan showed curious timing from a fiscal point of view. Two weeks before, sponsors of the New York Health Act told union officials that they were changing the bill in ways that could cost the city billions of dollars per year. Details of these high-stakes changes won't be available until next month, yet Council members chose to back the measure anyway – effectively endorsing a blank check.
The already extraordinary cost of a proposed state-run single-payer health plan jumped even higher this week when the chief sponsor, Assembly Health Chairman Richard Gottfried of Manhattan, announced that it would be expanded to cover long-term care.
In approving the $69 billion merger of CVS and Aetna, the state Department of Financial Services attached a noteworthy condition: The two companies must forward $40 million to the state of New York. It was the second time this year that the Cuomo administration has leveraged its regulatory authority over a health insurance company to extract a large sum of cash.
The latest too-good-to-be-true argument for single-payer comes from Albany City Treasurer Darius Shahinfar, who claims that a government-funded statewide health plan would dramatically reduce property taxes. In reality, the savings for local taxpayers, if any, would likely be a fraction of what Shahinfar estimates. And they would come at the cost of the largest increase in state taxes that New York has ever seen, not to mention wholesale disruption of the entire health-care system.
Analyzing the impact of single-payer health care on New York's hospitals
In a replay of the notorious Pataki-Rivera deal of 2002, the Cuomo administration has quietly ordered a multi-billion-dollar Medicaid rate increase to hospitals and nursing homes, with the money earmarked to boost employee pay and benefits.