LIFE & HEALTH: Clinton's Health Reform Has Supporters And Detractors In N.Y.; Medicaid A Dividing Point.

Author:Smith, Ellen

Insurance Advocate Albany Bureau

ALBANY, N.Y. -- President Clinton's plan for health reform received support and approval from New York State leaders, but Medicaid reimbursement remains a strong dividing point among certain groups and legislators.

'The President has got the diagnosis right, and his course of treatment is on the right track. We will need to make sure that as the debate builds and the details are filled in, Congress does not lose sight of the key goals--universal access, assured quality, and affordable cost--and that our state docs not lose massive funds in a national cost shift." said New York Health Commissioner Mark R. Chassin.

Governor Mario M. Cuomo also applauded the plan, calling it a "bold act of leadership" on Clinton's part. "The absence of a universal health care system in the United States is a national disgrace," said Cuomo. "Finally we have a President willing to advance the most significant policy change since the creation of the Medicare and Medicaid programs in the 1960's. And for the first time in 20 years, we are seeing a bipartisan effort to address national health care reform, "Cuomo added.

"The President has taken the most important step," continued Cuomo, "the first step. But it is the responsibility of all of us to guide the new steps. Controlling health care costs, expanding access to care for preventative care, these are all areas in which New York has led the country. A new system must reflect state success and counter the shortcomings of our current health care systems. We must craft a national system that ensures prenatal care to women in Brooklyn, home assistance to the frail elderly in the Adirondacks, and full immunization against preventable childhood diseases for all children," said Cuomo.

But Senate Majority Leader Ralph J. Marino (R-C-Suffolk) attacked Cuomo's stance on Medicaid and criticized his rejection of Senate Republican Medicaid cost containment proposals. "The governor is right to call for a maintenance of effort by the federal government in providing New York's fair share of federal Medicaid assistance." said Marino, who added, however, "he is wrong to advocate unchecked Medicaid spending."

Marino said "Senate Republicans have consistently stressed the importance of keeping increases in Medicaid spending pegged at the inflation rate." "Now that President Clinton has recognized this crucial reform, Governor Cuomo should also follow suit. By not doing so he has exposed just how out...

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