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The NYS Budget: Expectation of Cuts That Will Impact Health and Human Services and Social Workers
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The NYS Budget

Expectation of Cuts That Will Impact Health and Human Services and Social Workers

How Social Workers Can Give Voice To Their Concerns

A major financial crisis of historic proportions, the financing of two wars in the Middle East, a major reduction in taxes for the wealthiest Americans, and resistance in Congress to stimulate the economy have left state and local governments across the country with unprecedented budget deficits.

This is what Andrew Cuomo faced as he began his term as Governor. To resolve this, he has proposed major cuts to health and human services, and it will be up to the State legislature to determine just how deep these cuts will be. They will have little room to maneuver given the little money there is available.

The Governor has also put together what is known as the Medicaid Redesign Team, including stakeholders in health care from around the state, to come up with savings in what is one of the largest areas of the budget. The deadline for their recommendations was March 1.

The overall budget savings being sought by the Governor is $8.9 billion. Of this, $2.85 billion will come from savings in Medicaid.

According to the budget analysis of the Human Services Council of New York City (HSC), which represents the not-for-profit human services sector, there are $400 million in proposed cuts in human services for fiscal year 2012 and another $360 million for the following year.

Social Workers Can Participate in a Campaign: “Who Cares? I do.”

In an attempt to lessen the impact of budget cuts on human service programs, HSC has launched a campaign, titled “Who Cares? I Do”. Social workers can participate in this campaign, have their voices heard, and add to the capacity of HSC to make a difference in Albany. Go to www.WhoCares-IDo.org and read about how you can become involved.

NASW-NYC is a member of the Human Services Council, and supports their efforts.

Social workers can also become informed of how their own agencies or programs will be affected by these proposed budget cuts. Dialogue within an agency about what to expect allows everyone to be knowledgeable and clear about what is unfolding. With this knowledge, social workers can also help make a difference by contacting their representatives in Albany, in the State Senate and Assembly. Legislators often rely upon what they learn from social workers in their own decision making.

Medicaid Reimbursement of Social Work in Behavioral Health to Remain in Place

NASW learned that one proposal that the Medicaid Redesign Team considered would have had the outcome of not allowing Medicaid reimbursement for behavioral health services provided by LMSWs or student interns while under supervision. Historically, such reimbursement has been allowable. The impact of this proposal, if it had been adopted, would have had serious consequences, reducing the number of qualified practitioners significantly, to only LCSWs, resulting in a shortage of personnel and a reduction in services to clients in great need.

Both the New York State and New York City Chapters of NASW, along with agency providers, communicated their concerns to members of the Medicaid Redesign Team. While a major crisis has been avoided, this proposal may re-emerge in the future.

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