Calendar of Events
Legislative Update: 2012 Budget Outcomes
March 29, 2012
As the New York State budget process draws to a close, Empire Justice Center is pleased to share with you several exciting achievements that will have a positive impact on low income New Yorkers. Over the course of the past several months, ur staff worked tirelessly with dozens of partner organizations, Legislators and their staff as well as the Governor’s and the Attorney General’s offices to bring about these funding and policy initiatives in the budget. We hope you are as pleased as we are with the victories we describe below.
Major Victory on Foreclosure Prevention Funding!
An incredible partnership between Governor Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and both houses of the Legislature resulted in $9 million to go toward a 6 month continuation of the Foreclosure Prevention Services Program at approximately last year’s funding level. With legislative leadership from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, along with Assemblymembers Vito Lopez and Helene Weinstein, and Senators Cathy Young and Joe Griffo, an agreement was struck for the state to provide immediate funding so that existing programs can continue. Once funding becomes available from the multi-state mortgage servicing settlement, Attorney General Schneiderman will reimburse the state and use settlement funds to run a program from his office for the next three years. Service providers and homeowners around the state can breathe a sigh of relief now that we know that New York will continue to fund these critical services statewide for years to come.
Other human services related victories:
- The Legislature fully restored the final step of a multi-year increase in the welfare grant, which will be implemented in two parts, culminating in October of 2012.
- The Disability Advocacy Program will be getting a $250,000 increase above what the Governor proposed using general fund dollars, which will allow the program to generate greater savings for state and local governments. Total funding is now $5.01 million.
- Civil legal services funding initiated by the Assembly Majority was restored at $2.6 million, with an 8% reduction.
- Civil legal services funding in the Office of Court Administration, initiated by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, will provide $15 million to offset the Interest on Lawyers Accounts’ (IOLA) interest earnings losses and a total of $25 million for direct Civil Legal Services.
- Both the Assembly and the Senate restored funding or domestic violence legal assistance and services.
- The Legislature incresed funding for child care subsidies by $2 million over what the Governor provided and allocated just over $1 million for facillitated enrollment in the Capital District.
- Level funding for the statewide Managed Care Consumer Assistance Program (MCCAP) was included in the Executive Budget and agreed to by the Legislature to provide advocacy for elderly and disabled Medicare beneficiaries as they navigate the complicated world of Medicare Part D and access the health care they need.
- An additional $1 million dollars in state funding for the Nutrition Outreach and Education Program (NOEP) included in the Executive Budget, and agreed to by the Legislature, will help low income New Yorkers access federal nutrition assistance programs.
Health related achievements:
- While we were disappointed that authorization language to create an independent State Health Exchange was not included in the budget, we are pleased that the Governor has indicated he will provide authority for an Exchange through an Executive Order. This action will at least allow the design process to move forward.
- As a companion to the Exchange, we were very pleased to see the authorization for the State Department of Health to take over local administrative costs and responsibilities for Medicaid applications to help with the implementation of the Exchange included in the final budget.
- The proposal to eliminate spousal/parental refusal was successfully fought off.
- We helped initiate the successful effort to provide funding for an expansion of facilitated enrollment services to include elderly and disabled Medicaid applicants.
- “Prescriber prevails” protections for prescription drugs were reinstated, but only with regard to atypical antipsychotics. Prescriber Prevails allows the prescriber to have the final word in a dispute with a managed care plan about the medical necessity of a drug.
- Over $30 million was restored to the EPIC program after last year’s cuts left many seniors unable to afford their prescriptions. EPIC will resume Part D co-pay assistance before and after the coverage gap.
- The State Department of Health will be providing bi-annual reports on the implementation of Managed Long Term Care, a mandatory program for Medicaid enrollees who qualify for Medicare. Reports will provide measurements of consumer satisfaction with care coordination, changes in service levels, quality and timeliness. The Department will also be required to step up policies for transition and continuation of care.
- We are pleased that the final budget preserves the Governor’s proposal for translating prescriptions. Chain pharmacy stores will be required to provide oral and written translation services to customers with limited English proficiency that are filling prescriptions. These critical services will help to ensure that a language barrier does not become a threat to successful treatment.
There is still work to be done. As the session progresses we hope to see negotiations continue to enact charity care reform, target child care subsidies to working families by waiving welfare work rules for parents with a child under 1 year, passage of a comprehensive Health Insurance Exchange, an increase in the minimum wage, and closure of corporate tax loopholes.
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