NEW YORK: Funding For Special Needs Health Plans Proposed
"[B]uoyed by a financial commitment of as much as $24 million from" Gov. George Pataki (R), New York health officials and AIDS activists are moving ahead to "design health systems that treats New Yorkers with AIDS," the Albany Times Union reports. In his $71.9 billion state budget proposal, Pataki "allocated $30 million to develop systems that treat individuals with severe mental health needs, HIV or AIDS." Charles King, the director of the AIDS advocacy group Housing Works, said, "Last year we came here to say that if the governor were serious, he would put up $24 million. This year, he has put up $24 million. And I think that's a good-faith gesture."
Not A Done Deal
Ellen Anderson, director of the state Office of Managed Care, told activists working to design AIDS care plans that the budget figures are not "cast in stone." And the Times Union reports that the Legislature still must approve the governor's funding request. Plans are being made, however, to use the funds "as seed money to jump-start 12 health care networks ... to treat people who are on Medicaid and are HIV-positive or have AIDS." The special AIDS networks come as part of the state's overall effort to move more Medicaid patients into managed care plans. According to the Times Union, the networks are being created in response to the "belief that people with AIDS require more specialized treatment" than is offered in standard health plans. By next January, the state "hopes to begin enrolling some of the estimated 100,000 Medicaid clients with AIDS in specialized plans."
Gay Men's Health Crisis Director Susan Dooha called Pataki's $24 million commitment to the AIDS networks a "giant step in the process." However, "she said the distribution of the funds among health care providers interested in creating special needs plans is equally important." Dooha said, "The issue is: Will the money be there for the AIDS providers who have been there from the start?" (Tully, 2/4).