New York’s health centers and clinics have been busy over the past years, intensified by the dual health crises of COVID-19 and monkeypox, prompting Gov. Kathy Hochul to declare NYC under a public health emergency for the latter on July 30.
Health advocates worry that a pre-pandemic Cuomo-era proposal which could cut $2.5 billion in out of the state’s Medicaid program — set to be implemented in 2023 — would not only result in $250 million in lost revenue but would lead to the closure of 32 clinics across the city and state, health advocates told the Bronx Times.
Advocates and patients believe the plan would hurt the state’s 340B program, which sells prescription drugs at a reduced price to safety net providers such as community health centers, who in turn provide services such as housing, mental health and nutrition assistance to the low-income population.
Most recently, the program has helped provide staff for monkeypox vaccination clinics across the state.
“New York state declared a state of emergency for (monkeypox) and our clinics are committed to helping support vaccine distribution, but we can’t do that without the flexibility of the funding this important program provides,” said Wendy Stark, executive director of Callen-Lorde Community Health Center. “If Governor Hochul wants us to continue to serve and protect the most vulnerable New Yorkers during public health emergencies, she must repeal the carve-out immediately.”
Safety-net providers were also instrumental during the pandemic from providing essential care and lifesaving services to the city’s most vulnerable population to getting majority of patients vaccinated, advocates say. One of the biggest groups at risk, if 340B was cut, are residents with HIV and AIDS infections.
One of the championing claims from advocates of the carve-out is that it would save $125 million in the first year. However, a 2020 report by the Weakley Consulting Group found that the state would incur an additional $154 million in costs that would grow to $1.5 billion over five years if the carve-out moves forward.
Reach Robbie Sequeira at [email protected] or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes