From the NY Torch By Bill Hammond (click here for full article)
Health care was the dog that did not bark at Governor Andrew Cuomo’s combined State of State and budget address on Tuesday.
Given the widespread support for a statewide single-payer plan in the Legislature, and the health coverage expansions recently announced by other Democratic governors and Mayor Bill de Blasio, Cuomo might have been expected to respond with a splashy proposal of his own.
Instead, 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.
The commission’s mandate, as described near the bottom of his press release, does not mention the concept of single-payer, which has passed the Assembly in each of the past four years, and enjoys broad support in the Senate’s newly installed Democratic majority:
This review process will consider all options for expanding access to care, including strengthening New York’s commercial insurance market, expanding programs to include populations that are currently ineligible or cannot afford coverage, as well as innovative reimbursement models to improve efficiency and generate savings to support expanded coverage.
Cuomo has said he supports single-payer at the federal level, but thinks a state-only plan – conservatively estimated to require a $139 billion tax hike – is not practical.
Also notably missing from his spending plan was any reform of the notoriously dysfunctional $1.1 billion Indigent Care Pool, which theoretically compensates hospitals for charity care but distributes the money with little rhyme or reason.
The health-related proposals the governor did include in his budget were relatively small-bore, such as requiring certain insurers to cover in vitro fertilization, bolstering an existing mandate for coverage of birth control and reinforcing and expanding the state laws that legalize abortion.
Meanwhile, his administration’s efforts to control Medicaid costs – a success story in his early years as governor – show signs of falling apart.