Ellen Jaffee on Health Issues
¨ Work to expand affordable health insurance Uninsured/underinsured, ie. small business employees and small business owners
¨ Lower Prescription drug costs for everyone / expand EPIC, increase funding for home care, regulate assisted living facilities, and enact standards for staffing ratios in nursing homes.
¨ Breast cancer study/ heart disease among women
¨ Nearly 3 million New Yorkers are uninsured, according to the US Bureau of the Census, 2000. In the aftermath of the September 11, terrorist attacks, this is expected to rise. Although many of the uninsured work, or have a family member who works, they are still predominantly poor and do not have employer sponsored health coverage. The uninsured lack health insurance largely because an employer does not offer insurance, or because they cannot afford to pay the cost sharing required by their employer.
¨ Rising cost of medications has caused our health insurance premiums to rise 20% in the last five years. Seniors are going to Canada to seek lower costs so they can afford to take prescribed drugs or take half doses. We must work together to assure that everyone has comprehensive prescription drug coverage. Seniors are especially impacted by the high cost of prescription drugs.
¨ Use buying power of the state as leverage to negotiate with drug companies to lower the cost. (epic, health plus, Medicaid)
¨ For underinsured and uninsured, state should negotiate prices and provide drug cards /Enhancements for epic-should include medicare disabled who do not have access to affordable med..funding for outreach and education 40% not enrolled/ complicated forms should be simplified and funding to train staff
High priority will be to further the preservation and financial stability of County Hospitals, nursing homes and other health facilities, the shortage of health care workers and home care aides. Increase funding for EISEP- home care for middle class. Pataki targeted Rockland and cut hours and reimbursements-leading to shortages. We need increase in reimbursements and allow localities to make decisions regarding safety supervision. Less costly than nursing homes.
¨ I will continue to lobby to get the state to complete a comprehensive study to investigate risk factors, such as lifestyle, medical history or the environment , which may explain why the breast cancer statistics are so high in Rockland /according to the NYS Cancer Surveillance Improvement Initiative published zip code level maps to indicate where there were increased areas of incidence of breast cancer. ( did this by phone, letter and legislation Nov-December 2000)
¨ Protect health insurance benefits and Pension COLA improvements for all public employees are needed.
Healthy New York
Healthy New York was an innovative approach to reducing health insurance premiums for low income workers and small firms. Established as part of NY's Health Care Reform Act of 2000 and began operations in January of 2001. To date it has not been very successful in increasing numbers of insured. Apparently premiums are still too high and enrollment has not met expectations.
Three possible options to modify Healthy New York to reduce premiums and increase the number of uninsured workers and small employers. Three major options might be:
1. Give direct subsidies to individuals to purchase coverage
2. Adjust the reinsurance premium ( more of the risk of high cost claims shifted to state)
3. Add a second standardized benefits package, as permitted under the Health Care Reform Act 2000, and plan to add one or two additional packages. The goal would be to attract more low risk people, keeping reducing premiums low.