May 27, 2022

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Budget, boosters, BA.2- POLITICO

5 min read

Good morning and welcome to Monday’s New York Health Care newsletter, where we keep you posted on what’s coming up this week in health care news, and offer a look back at the important news from last week.

We’re still waiting on a budget in Albany. Lawmakers are back in town this week to finalize the spending plan for fiscal year 2023, which officially began on April 1.

Votes on the new budget could start as early as today. But “if a state budget is not adopted on Monday,” State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has warned, “about 39,000 state workers may have a delay in receiving their paychecks” — including many who work in health care facilities.

The Senate and Assembly left Albany on Thursday as three-way talks between legislative leaders and the governor’s office stalled on an array of issues. Lawmakers told POLITICO that about a quarter of health-related budget items had been finalized as of then, with major issues like home care worker pay and immigrant health coverage still outstanding, POLITICO’s Shannon Young reported. (And POLITICO’s Albany team broke down where other key budget negotiations stand.)

The new state budget is not the only issue facing Gov. Kathy Hochul. With Covid-19 cases rising in parts of the state, the governor is reupping the state’s vaccination efforts. The governor announced Saturday that eligible New Yorkers can now get their initial Covid shots, booster shots and even second booster dose. (And state health officials released new guidance for the second booster.)

Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said Saturday that “providers statewide, including at the state’s mass vaccination sites, are ready to administer second booster doses for eligible New Yorkers.”

“For each of us, vaccination remains our personal best line of defense against COVID,” she added in a statement. “As we have seen with the recent increase of the Omicron sub-variant BA.2, COVID is still with us. These safe and effective vaccines remain free, including the second booster.”

ON THE AGENDA: Today the Office of Cannabis Management is launching a public education campaign on the state’s marijuana law with a late-morning event at the City College of New York.

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NURSING HOME RULES — Shannon reports: Gov. Kathy Hochul took executive action Thursday to extend the statewide disaster emergency due to health care staffing shortages. But she ended the suspension of the “safe staffing” direct care spending nursing home rules, which had been suspended under previous executive orders. Those rules took effect Friday.

— 1199SEIU union officials, who had called on Hochul to implement the nursing home rules, lauded the governor’s decision at a Friday news conference. 1199SEIU Executive Vice President Milly Silva called it “an important day for residents of nursing homes, their family members, certainly the taxpayers of New York State and all of the caregivers, who have been dedicated [to] providing care for so many years.”

SEE YOU IN COURT — Shannon reports: Disability Rights New York, Children’s Rights, the National Health Law Program, and Proskauer Rose LLP have filed a class action lawsuit against the Hochul administration on behalf of Medicaid-eligible children who claim to have been denied mental health treatment. The complaint was filed last week against state Health Commissioner Mary Bassett and Mental Health Commissioner Ann Marie T. Sullivan in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. It asserts that “despite federal laws requiring mental health services be available and provided to the State’s Medicaid children and youth, New York administers an inadequate, inaccessible, and fragmented mental health system for these children and youth.”

The Department of Health and Office Mental Health said they do not comment on pending litigation.

… Leaders with the New York State Coalition for Children’s Behavioral Health, Families Together in New York State and the Campaign for Healthy Minds, Healthy Kids, meanwhile, urged Gov. Kathy Hochul in a March 31 letter to address issues raised in the lawsuit and by mental health providers “immediately in the budget process and build on the already robust commitments being made by your administration.”

IN OTHER NEWS:

—The Department of Taxation and Finance now has a web page with information on the adult-use cannabis products excise tax.

— A Staten Island judge on Friday struck down the city’s mask mandate for toddlers, calling the public health measure “arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable,” POLITICO’s Amanda Eisenberg reports.

— The Police Benevolent Association invoked the mayor’s recent vaccine mandate carveout in its lawsuit challenging a separate municipal mandate — an argument legal experts believe will become more common as critics seek to undo the city’s edicts for both the private and public sectors, POLITICO’s Joe Anuta reports.

WE LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU: This roundup is for you! Send news tips, health tips, ideas, criticisms and corrections to [email protected] and [email protected].

NOW WE KNOW — Humans consume around a credit card’s weight in plastic each week.

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TODAY’S TIP — The New York Times offers guided meditations “for uncertain times.”

MAKE SURE TO FOLLOW Amanda @aeis17 and Shannon @ShannonYoung413 on Twitter. And for all New Jersey health news, check out Daniel Han, @danieljhan_.

STUDY THIS — Get those sleep masks out! “New research suggests that one night of sleep with just a moderate amount of light may have adverse effects on cardiovascular and metabolic health,” NPR reports.

The Broadway production of “Macbeth” has canceled upcoming performances after Daniel Craig tested positive for Covid-19.

Onondaga, Oswego and Cayuga counties were among only 16 in the U.S. considered to have high risks for Covid transmission by the CDC.

City & State looks at how the new state budget, which is still being negotiated in Albany, could “make it easier to force people to get mental health treatment.”

Mifflin County in Pennsylvaniaoffers a snapshot into how one hard-hit community” is coping with Covid-related deaths, Kaiser Health News reports.

The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday voted to decriminalize marijuana.

Elected officials and advocates say there’s no safe place for homeless New Yorkers to go after Adams already cleared out the subways and transit hubs, POLITICO’s Janaki Chadha and Amanda Eisenberg report.

POLITICO’s Krista Mahr reports that the Biden administration said it will end a Trump-era border policy on May 23, under which nearly two million migrants have been expelled from the U.S.

Global health organizations are considering changing their Covid-19 vaccination pledges — a move that could leave millions of people without first shots as countries reprioritize at-risk groups in the coming months, POLITICO’s Daniel Payne and Erin Banco report.

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