Healthcare workers, clergy, elected leaders say proposed Medicaid cuts would compromise care

Mar 8, 2019

Opponents of Medicaid cuts proposed in the state budget gathered inside a senior care home Friday to send a message to the Cuomo administration and state leaders: if you cut the Medicaid, you'll cut the quality of care.

Governor Andrew Cuomo's office projects a revenue shortfall exceeding $2 billion. Reported proposals to erase the deficit include closing up to three prisons, redistributing health care funding and imposing a tax on opioids.

Residents of the Seneca Health Care Center in West Seneca hold up signs urging state leaders to avoid proposed Medicaid cuts in the proposed state budget.
Credit Michael Mroziak, WBFO

They also include cuts to Medicaid reimbursements, at least $800 million over two years, according to the Healthcare Education Project. Such cuts, say healthcare workers, would be catastrophic for nursing homes, assisted living homes and other such facilties.

"This is not a situation where you can do more with less," said Sharina Morris, a LPN at Seneca Health Care Center in West Seneca, where workers, officers of the union representing them, clergy and elected officials gathered to reject proposed Medicaid cuts. "It's not that type of thing. We need the time. We need the staff to give them quality care. If it's your family, you've got to think about it. Everybody has to be in this situation at some point whether it's here, whether it's a hospital, we just can't do more with less. it just can't happen."

Morris suggests more healthcare workers are needed, not fewer, to keep up with the needs of residents served in the facility where she works.

Assemblymember Patrick Burke and Mitch Martin, representing State Senator Patrick Gallivan, took turns rejecting the proposed cuts. Burke called the cuts draconian, disappointing and cold.

"It's my first year in the Assembly. so I've got a lot to learn, but one thing I've heard a lot is that this is really just a negotiating tactic from the governor," Burke said. "I couldn't think of a more cruel notion than to try and leverage people's health and their health care as a negotiating tactic."

Those speaking out against the cuts say if they go through, jobs would be lost and community facilities could close.

"This is a moral issue as much as it is a healthcare issue," said Reverend Michelle Buhite of Unitarian Universalist Church of Amherst. "The rest of the country is watching, New York. We have taken the moral high ground on so many issues. We can't stumble over a decision to keep health care available and accessible for all."

The state budget is due April 1.