New York State Department of Health
New York State Insurance Department


ISSUED 8/14/2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts:
Health: Claudia Hutton 518-474-7354, ext. 1
Insurance: David Neustadt 212-480-5265

“Partnership for Coverage” Public Hearings To Be Held Around State To Help Develop Plan for Health Care Coverage

         Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., and Insurance Superintendent Eric Dinallo announced today that the New York State Departments of Health and Insurance will conduct public hearings to solicit input on the development of proposals for achieving health system reform, increasing access to health insurance coverage and determining ways that universal coverage can be achieved in New York. The program has been named New York’s Partnership for Coverage.

         “Our ‘partnership for coverage’ will be based on a building-block approach that ensures access to affordable, high-quality medical care for every New Yorker, reduces the cost of health care incurred by the public and the state, and avoids the significant implementation problems that have plagued other states’ efforts in this area,” said Governor Eliot Spitzer. “This incremental effort will draw from the experiences of other states, but will ultimately result in a plan that is uniquely suited to New York’s uninsured population and health-care challenges.

         “To be clear, we cannot achieve this goal unless we first restructure our health care delivery system to lower health care costs,” Governor Spitzer said. “Otherwise, we will force an undue burden on families, businesses and government to cover the cost of universal coverage.”

         "New York State spends more per capita on health care than any other state in the nation, but we aren't getting top results for New Yorkers," Commissioner Daines said. "Almost three million New Yorkers are without health insurance, and on quality indicators, New York State ranks average or worse than other states. Quality care starts with coverage. We must ensure that we spend our health care dollars efficiently and effectively so that every New Yorker can afford health insurance and access the quality care they need to live longer and healthier lives. No New York family should have to choose between paying for medical care vs. basic living costs such as food or rent."

         Superintendent Dinallo said, “Many of the nearly three million uninsured New Yorkers work but cannot afford to purchase health insurance. Too often that causes them to delay seeking treatment, which often results in more serious illnesses, more expensive care and worse health outcomes. We must ensure that health insurance and thus access to care is available at a reasonable cost to all New Yorkers.”

         The Departments of Health and Insurance issued a notice today that lists the dates and locations of the public hearings, the process for testifying at them and some key questions that should be addressed to help increase access to health insurance coverage.

         New York has already begun to reform its health care delivery system and expand health insurance coverage in the State. Legislation passed this year contains key building blocks of Governor Spitzer’s effort to increase access to coverage, improve the quality of health care and control health care costs, including: expansion of eligibility under Child Health Plus to 400 percent of the federal poverty level to make health coverage available to New York’s 400,000 uninsured children; enrollment simplification to help ensure that those already eligible for Medicaid receive and maintain coverage; expansion of the Family Health Plus program to allow employers to participate; reallocation of Medicaid spending to follow the patient and improve patient outcomes; and control of the growth rate of Medicaid spending from an annual average of 8 percent since 2001 to approximately 1 percent this year to promote the efficient delivery of health-care services. These initiatives and accomplishments begin the essential restructuring of the State’s health-care system to ensure comprehensive coverage and high-quality, cost-effective care.

         Additional information about health insurance trends, health system restructuring and Medicaid reform efforts in New York is available at Partnership for Coverage.

Public Hearings

         The hearings will provide the Departments with valuable information to assist in (i) developing a high-quality, cost-effective health-care system, (ii) increasing access to health insurance coverage and (iii) identifying requirements for an effective, sustainable economic model for universal coverage. The Departments are interested in proposals to increase the level of insurance coverage, improve the quality and efficiency of the health-care delivery system in New York, control the cost of health insurance and health care, distribute the cost of health insurance and care fairly and equitably, improve the State’s economy and its business competitiveness, promote the economic viability of health-care providers and determine ways to achieve universal coverage. The hearing notice has an extensive list of suggested questions.

The Public Hearing Schedule

Date: Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Time: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Location: Glens Falls Civic Center
Glens Falls, NY

Date: Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Location: Erie County Community College
Buffalo, NY

Date: Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Location: Fordham University
113 West 60th Street
New York, NY

Date: Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Time: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Location: Onondaga Community College
Syracuse, NY

Date: Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Time: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Location: SUNY Old Westbury
Old Westbury, NY

         All individuals planning to attend a hearing must pre-register with the New York State Department of Health or the New York State Department of Insurance. Instructions for how to register are in the hearing notice.

         The hearing notice can be found at Partnership for Coverage/Hearings.


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