New York Medicaid cuts to hit low income communities

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — – Local organizations are fighting to keep a drug discount program called 340B from being impacted by New York state budget cuts.

Revenue and services are at risk of being lost for organizations if funds from the state Medicaid rebate program don’t come through.

Executive Director of Albany’s Damien Center Perry Junjulas is looking at a loss of $1.4 million in revenue that comes from the program. That’s a quarter of the HIV-AIDs center’s budget.

“If we stop providing meals, housing, transportation, mental health support, they are going to end up having worse health outcomes, and that is going to cost Medicaid in the long run,” Junjulas said.

The program allows the organization to buy prescriptions at cost.

“We are already, now, developing our budgets for January first and I’m at loss as to what to put in their for a number,” Junjulas said.

The cuts are a part of Governor Cuomo’s budget. The NYS Department of Health is working on a transition plan to help agencies maintain their services by the April 1, 2021 deadline.

“We are not seeing the progress in this transition, and to date, the state does not have a plan for us to hang our hat on,”Junjulas said.

Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy is one of several lawmakers backing a reversal in the policy.

“These funds are so important because they have had such success, especially with medically fragile individuals,” Fahy said.

As lawmakers grapple with balancing the state’s budget, Fahy is looking for two things: an increase in taxes on the state’s most wealthy and federal stimulus dollars.

“There’s two big drivers to the state budget, health care, and Medicaid is the biggest chunk of that, as well as education. And both of those are in serious trouble,” Fahy said.

Junjulas said he’s hoping on a last minute save.

“I’m very upset that we are not going to be able to do as much in our community because of this change. And I’m deploring the Department of Health, the Division of Budget and the governor to rescind this carve-out so that I can continue the great work that we are doing,” Junjulas said.

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