The Orleans County Chamber of Commerce believes that the State of New York needs to provide a greater percentage of the funding for the Medicaid program. The local funding contribution in most other states is significantly lower. The current formula for financing the program has resulted in a tremendous unfunded mandate being imposed upon New York’s county governments. This burden has driven property taxes unnecessarily high and has caused unwarranted cuts in vital county services.
The Chamber urges the Governor and the State Legislature to immediately cap the amount of money counties are required to pay for Medicaid. Once the cap is in place, the State should immediately phase in a plan to make the counties’ share of Medicaid comparable to the local share paid in other states.
Finally, the State should re-evaluate its Medicaid program and consider cost-cutting and eligibility reforms such as:
· Adjusting the benefits being offered to Medicaid recipients in New York, with the goal of keeping New York’s benefit package comparable to the benefit package offered in other large states and/or private health insurance plans used by many New Yorkers.
· Giving the counties the option to elect to cover or not to cover services that are optional under Federal Medicaid law.
· Making use of co-pays. o Making better use of managed care and HMOs. o Requiring 90-day state residency.
· Using asset tests similar to those used in most other states.
· Encouraging the purchase of long term health care insurance.
• The Orleans County Chamber of Commerce urges the News York State Governor and Legislative body to become more responsible in regard to passing the state’s annual budget on time. Sound financial planning on the state, local, or school district level is not possible under the current system of regularly ignored deadlines. The Chamber also believes it is essential to meaningfully involve more Legislators in the budget process and have more input from other elected officials besides the Governor, Senate Majority leader and the Speaker of the Assembly.
• : The Orleans County Chamber of Commerce believes that workers injured while responsibly performing their job duties are entitled to reasonable benefits through the Workers’ Compensation program. New York has long been known as a high cost, low benefit state in regard to workers’ compensation. The Chamber believes steps should be taken to minimize the costs of the program, while providing benefits competitive with those of the other states. To this end, the Chamber supports:
1. The implementation of reasonable, objective medical guidelines
2. Amendments to sections 240 and 241 of the Labor Law to create a comparative negligence standard on third party suits
3. Initiatives to combat the fraudulent use of the Worker’s Compensation system
• The Orleans County Chamber’s Public Policy Committee believes that for any significant progress on issues important to the region’s economic competitiveness to be made in Albany, major changes to the way the state legislature operates are needed. To that end, the Orleans County Chamber supports the following recommendations contained in the Brennan Center report for reforming the legislature.
· Each Legislative committee shall have the authority to hire and fire its own professional committee staff.
· A mechanism shall exist for members of a committee to successfully petition for a public hearing on a bill or an agency oversight hearing, unless the petition is rejected by a vote of the committee.
· All bills reported to the floor must be accompanied by a detailed public committee report.
· Attendance at committee hearings shall be mandatory except upon good cause shown, and committee meetings shall be recorded and the record made publicly available.
· Members shall be assigned to a limited number of committees during a legislative session.
· All bills reported to the legislative calendar shall be reported by a standing committee with jurisdiction over the bill’s subject matter, rather than being reported only by the Committee on Rules or the Ways & Means Committee.
· A mechanism shall exist for members of a committee to successfully petition for a vote on a bill as soon as practicable in the current legislative session.
· Every bill voted out of committee shall be placed on the calendar and must be considered and voted upon by the full chamber within 60 days or prior to adjournment, whichever comes first.
· A mechanism shall exist for the sponsor of a bill to make a successful motion to discharge a bill from committee.
· There shall be a limit on the number of motions to discharge within a legislative session to encourage the use of the committee structure except in cases where it is hindering important policy discussion and dialogue.
· Debate on a motion to discharge shall not be limited in duration, except that such debate shall be closed by a vote of the elected members of the chamber.
· All votes on discharge motions shall be taken by slow roll call and the votes of each member recorded as public record.
· Votes by members shall be recorded and counted only when the member is physically present in the chamber at the time of the vote and personally indicates whether s/he wishes to vote “aye” or “nay.” Such votes shall be made available as public record.
· No message of necessity shall be approved by the Governor unless (a) at least two thirds of the elected members of the chamber in question have voted to request such a message and (b) the Governor has personally reviewed and signed the message as intended by the Constitution.
· A mechanism shall exist to allow for debate on any bill and the debate shall be limited only by a vote of the elected members of the chamber.
· When bills addressing the same subject matter have been passed by both chambers, a conference committee shall be convened at the request of the prime sponsor from each or the Speaker and Majority Leader. Such committee shall convene for a “mark up” session within two weeks of such a request to reconcile the differences in the two chambers’ bills before final passage. At least one of the meetings of every conference committee shall be open to the public and transcribed.
· Each member shall be limited in the number of bills they may introduce each session.
· If a budget is not passed by the legal deadline, all members of the legislature shall remain in Albany until the budget is passed.
· A default budget shall be created and shall be used whenever a budget deadline is missed.
· Members shall be given adequate time to review and analyze the budget before a vote is taken