Health care reform in New York is addressed by Governor Hochul on January 10

On Jan. 10, New York Governor Kathy Hochul delivered her 2023 State of the State address. The address included a number of health care reform initiatives — a strong indication that New York will prioritize health care and spending issues in the coming year. Here is a summary of Governor Hochul’s big-ticket healthcare agenda items.

First, Governor Hochul outlined how New York plans to use its historic $20 billion health care spending bill and build on New York’s health care system in the following ways:

  • Create a “Committee on the Future of Health Care” to help guide New York’s strategic response to ongoing innovations in how New Yorkers pay for and deliver medical care as they transition to and adopt digital, outpatient, and in-home services;

  • Create a new healthcare technology grant capital fund;

  • reform mobile nurse agency recruitment practices to reduce healthcare spending and require recruitment agencies to record and report operational data;

  • expanding the health care providers’ “range of practice” by joining the Interstate Licensing Charter and the Nurses Licensing Charter; And

  • Streamline approval processes for healthcare projects in New York, including the Certificate of Need process and steps to ensure that healthcare transactions for the private sector are financially sustainable and support quality and reach goals of care.

Second, Governor Hochul has committed to improving access to and quality of mental and behavioral health care. To achieve these goals, Governor Hochul suggested:

  • expanding insurance coverage of mental health services by preventing insurers from denying access to medically necessary, acute need, acute, and crisis mental health services, and adopting standards for appointment availability and geographic accessibility for behavioral health services;

  • expanding mental health services for school-age children whose need for and access to mental health services has been particularly affected by school closures due to the pandemic;

  • Increase inpatient psychiatric operating capacity by 1,000 beds, including by requiring Section 28 community hospitals to use all of their existing beds and investing $27.5 million to support increased inpatient psychiatric rates;

  • improving mental health care coordination and planning by establishing a system of accountability – from admission through discharge and post-acute care, including time-critical intervention care coordination teams;

  • Significantly expanding outpatient services with 12 new emergency psychiatric care locations and 40 new treatment teams, mobilized to reach New Yorkers most at risk and expanding certified community behavioral health clinics to provide integrated behavioral health care. And

  • Ensure equal payment for behavioral health services provided in person or through telehealth.

Third, Governor Hochul’s administration plans to “strengthen the foundation” of New York’s healthcare system by:

  • expanding Medicaid coverage for preventive health services and the Medicaid Purchase Program for New Yorkers with Disabilities;

  • protecting New Yorkers from burdensome medical debt and costs by preventing creditors from being attached to homes and wages to secure medical debt, amending the Consumer Credit Equity Act to cover medical debt, investing in medical debt literacy, and requiring hospitals to use a standard application for financial aid form;

  • improving primary care by expanding access and increasing Medicaid reimbursement rates;

  • ensuring access to high-quality long-term care, including by investing in care teams to provide care for low-income adults in their own homes;

  • revitalizing emergency medical services and medical transportation, including allowing emergency medical teams to treat people in the community; And

  • Support ongoing collaboration between the Office of Addiction Services and Support and the Department of Health in addressing the drug abuse epidemic in the state.

Finally, Governor Hochul emphasized the need for emergency preparedness. In the speech, she explained how New York will prepare for future emergencies by:

  • modernizing New York’s health reporting systems to be more secure in how they store and transmit health data, and more efficient and effective in how they are used;

  • rebuilding Wadsworth Laboratories to advance cutting-edge research on biomedical and environmental issues critical to protecting the health of New Yorkers; And

  • Strengthening public health emergency preparedness capacity in New York in light of lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The full State of the State book can be found here. Many of these proposals will be included in the governor’s proposed budget, which is expected to be released around February 1, with the final budget passed after legislative review and negotiations on April 1.

Understanding state health care policy and investment goals is critical to health care companies and stakeholders as they plan and develop business goals for the year. The company’s healthcare team can help evaluate and implement strategies to account for upcoming changes.

Jacquelyn R. Daniel of Proskauer Rose LLP authored this article.

© 2023 Proskauer Rose LLP. National Law Review, Volume XIII, Number 21

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