MRT Hearings, Legislative Budget Hearings, Budget Lawsuit Threat, Property Tax Cap
Legislative Advocate Network (LAN) News and Alerts
From the Desk of Ben Golden
January 26, 2011
In This Issue
Joint Fiscal Hearings
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Ben Golden

Associate Executive Director for Governmental Affairs

Joint Fiscal Committee Hearings Scheduled
The Senate Finance Committee and Assembly Ways and Means Committee released the schedule for their joint hearings on the State budget.  OPW's hearings are slated for March 2nd.  Separate Medicaid hearings will be held on March 1st.


The annual hearings provide an opportunity for legislators to quiz Commissioners and other top agency personnel on the budget proposed by the Governor.


Review the hearing schedule here
Medicaid, Preschool, Early Intervention and the Property Tax Cap

It appears that Governor Cuomo's top priority for the coming legislative session will be a property tax cap.  New York's property taxes are 80% above the national average.


In "The County Call to Cut Property Taxes" the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) noted that "In 2010 across the State (outside of New York City) nearly $4.4 billion was raised through county property taxes.  Unfortunately, individual counties have little control over the amount and use of these local taxes. In fact, nine State mandates consume $4 billion or 90% of the $4.4 billion in property taxes collected statewide."  According to NYSAC the most expensive mandate by far is Medicaid, costing counties $7 billion ($2.2 billion outside of NYC).  Also included in the list of 9 mandates is, at # 4, Pre-School Special Education costing $420 million and, at #7, Early Intervention costing $185 million.


NYSAC argues that controlling the property tax is critical but doing that requires controlling the mandates that drive property taxes in the first place.


Read the NYSAC report on property taxes

Updates: Helgerson's Medicaid Challenge, A Target on Our Back, NYSARC Meetings and Talking Points 

New York Times Profiles Jason Helgerson's New York Medicaid Challenge
New York's new Medicaid cost cutter, Jason Helgerson, faces a far more daunting task in New York than he did in Wisconsin.

Read more about Helgerson's challenge


Another Article Paints a Target on Our Back (courtesy of Gary Lind)

The disproportionate use of Medicaid for persons with disabilities and the elderly is the focus of considerable attention.  Here's another article making the point.

Read the article from the NY Daily News

Meeting with Senate Health Chair
NYSARC met yesterday afternoon with Senate Health Chair Kemp Hannon.  Senator Hannon has jurisdiction for Medicaid in the State Senate.   The meeting included Marc Brandt, Executive Director, Sandy Gumerove, parent with the Nassau Chapter and NYSARC Governmental Affairs Committee Chair, Gary Lind, Director of Policy, and Ben Golden, Governmental Affairs Director. Also at the meeting was Jane Preston, Senator Hannon's former longtime chief aide.  The aim of the meeting was to continue to distinguish the critical needs of people with developmental disabilities from other Medicaid recipients for the Senate Health Committee.


This year's budget, with its emphasis on all Medicaid, is expected to provide unusually intensive focus on services for people with developmental disabilities in the Legislature's Health Committees, in addition to the usual focus in Mental Health committees. 


Senator Hannon is a longtime friend of NYSARC and worked closely with NYSARC on the Health Care Decisions Act. 


Kristin Sinclair from Senator Hannon's Office also attended. 


MRT Hearings Coming Up, NYSARC Talking Points

The Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT) will hold two hearings in New York City on Thursday. 

Two hearings have taken place so far in Buffalo and Rochester.  Both hearings were characterized as active with participants packing the room. There was a two minute limit on individual comments which was strictly enforced with an egg timer.

NYSARC believes that a strong presence, if possible, at these hearings is important.  But we don't recommend busloads of people. We have prepared talking points. Feel free to make your own changes and offer your own ideas.

Review the MRT hearing schedule


Download NYSARC Talking Points


Disability Advocates: MRT Proposals May Launch Lawsuits (From Crain's Business Review)

Weather permitting, the Medicaid Redesign Team's New York City meetings will be graced by patient advocacy groups for disabled and low-income city residents. Advocacy groups have been planning to make their voices heard at Thursday's meetings, but with another snowstorm brewing, their voices may shift to the courtroom instead.

Advocates say that the people who are most affected by the changes being discussed by the MRT will be at the hearings, but those who use walkers and wheelchairs probably can't navigate the storm, noted Susan Dooha, executive director of the Center for Independence of the Disabled in Manhattan. "We'll be looking at other ways to get people's voices heard," she said, including letter writing, legislative visits, and suing the state over any Medicaid reforms' compliance with laws protecting the disabled.


Advocacy groups for the disabled are at odds with Medicaid reform proposals that seek to cut personal care spending, which they say keeps the disabled out of expensive nursing homes. "We're looking at all our options, waiting to see what the proposals are," she added. "We have a right to live independently in the community, and that also is more cost-effective for taxpayers."


The Save Our Safety Net campaign, created to fight Berger commission hospital closures, has revived to fight the MRT. It has urged Medicaid consumers and advocates to distribute flyers and attend Thursday's MRT meetings, which it claims will cut Medicaid benefits and slash funding for safety net providers.

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