2002-06-29 / Community

Getting the Health Care NY Deserve

Getting the Health Care NY Deserve

State Senator Malcolm A. Smith applauded the funding provided for a number of health care initiatives in the recently passed 2002-2003 State Budget, saying "there are few more important issues than those surrounding the health care needs of New Yorkers." Smith has been a long time supporter of these initiatives.

The recent national economic downturn, coupled with the tragic aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11 has significantly impacted funding for all programs and services. Smith was nonetheless pleased that many critical health care initiatives and issues he has fought for were addressed.

"The human tragedy resulting from the World Trade Center attacks affected all of us very deeply on a personal level, but also dealt a substantial blow to our New York City and State economies." Smith went on to say, "Improving medical care for New Yorkers, and providing adequate funding for health care programs which do just that, will always be one of my top priorities. This budget, although imperfect, does provide critical funding for health care programs I strongly advocate."

The budget includes $2.7 million to implement a new Medicaid buy-in program, effective next April that will permit disabled New Yorkers to seek employment without losing their health insurance. Breast cancer detection and awareness programs, Alzheimer’s disease centers and workplace wellness programs were all funded. Additionally, monies were provided to expand Medicaid eligibility for poor women diagnosed with breast and cervical cancers, and the New York State AIDS Institute will receive critically needed funds to help combat the rampant spread of HIV/AIDS in communities of color –an initiative that Smith specifically asked be included in the spending plan.

"In addition to funding for these valuable programs, I am pleased that school-based health care programs will receive $4 million over the last three years levels, and that support for immunization programs was also increased by $3.7 million," Smith stated. "Coupled with continued funding for the Child Health Plus and Family Health Plus health insurance programs, this budget reflects positively on many of my health care concerns."

Also included in the new budget and supported by Smith is a partial repeal of the six percent nursing home tax, along with salary increases for home health care employees. Additionally, Smith supported a new program in the spending plan that will provide access to infertility treatment for couples trying to have children.

Health issues have always been a top priority for Smith, along with education, the economy, and technological development. This agenda is based on his experience with Health, Education, Economics and Technology issues before he was elected State Senator. His advocacy on behalf of those issues is his current legislative role. The Queens lawmaker said, "My top legislative priorities remain those initiatives related to health, education, the economy, and technology."

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