April 7, 2022
At this moment, Governor Hochul is speaking to the press and announced there is a deal on a new state budget. The Governor is currently discussing some of the major initiatives in the budget to include a deal to give a $3.00/hour increase to home health workers. The budget invests over $7B over 4 years to expand child care. The Governor also referenced $1.2B in healthcare workforce bonuses (no details), $2.4B in investments in healthcare infrastructure (no details), and $3.9B over 4 years for hospitals that were ravaged due to the COVID pandemic (no details).
Under the heading “we haven’t seen it in print yet but we are feeling pretty good about it”,… it is our understanding that the Health and Mental Hygiene budget bill that is yet to be released includes a deal on telehealth that largely follows the contours of the Governors original executive budget proposal on this topic, and our requests. The final agreement on telehealth is said to require rate parity for both Medicaid and private health insurance reimbursement for a period of two years, with a sunset of the provision at the two year mark. In the interim, a study is to be completed that looks at statewide telehealth utilization patterns and other factors relating to availability and quality of care. As you know, some of the concerns raised by certain members of the legislature have to do with a fear that telehealth will become the predominant modality for the provision of all healthcare across New York, to the detriment of care recipients who need or prefer FTF care. At this early stage it is unclear what the deal says about the payment of facility fees for a telehealth service. Hospitals and FQHCs receive a facility fee as part of their services rate structure. Health plans had objected to paying facility fees for telehealth services. The Governor’s proposal did not include payment of facility fees for hospitals and FQHCs. We are trying to get more detail on this point.
Note: As we’ve said before, until we see it in print we can’t be 100% certain we have described the deal with total accuracy, so please stand by for more information and forgive us ahead of time if we miss a detail. We see the state budget as a massive onion with many layers that must be peeled before we can appreciate all that it contains.