WXXI Local Stories
Mon March 5, 2007
Health Advocates Back Spitzer
By Karen DeWitt
Albany, New York –
Health groups that are in favor of Governor Spitzer's budget gathered with the Governor at the State Capitol, in a show of support for a health plan that's come under attack from the largest lobby group in the health care industry.
Spitzer met with representatives from the American Cancer Society, the American Heart and Diabetes Associations, and others. All praised the Governor's health care budget for focusing on the prevention of these costly diseases.
Governor Spitzer says despite record spending on health care in New York- the Medicaid budget is around $45 billion dollars- New Yorkers are "not in a good place" when it comes to the prevalence of chronic diseases.
"Two in three adults...and one in three children..is overweight or obese," said Spitzer, who says that diabetes rates have skyrocketed.
Spitzer's budget includes more money for anti-teen smoking campaigns, and for the
combating of childhood obesity.
Peter Iwanowicz, with the American Lung Association, says he backs $2 million additional dollars for asthma prevention, which he says can make people healthier and save money.
Mary Ann Ragona, with the Alzheimer's Association, says she likes proposals in the Governor's budget which help family members care for Alzheimer's patients.
Spitzer also wants to invest in health insurance for all of the state's children, and to make it easier for nearly a million uninsured adults to get coverage.
The Governor has run into opposition for his health care plan, which would cut money from hospitals and nursing homes. The largest lobby group representing hospitals and hospital workers has been incensed by the plan and is running attack ads.
The Reverend Al Sharpton has even become involved, cutting an ad for the health care lobby group.
1199's chief lobbyist Jennifer Cunningham, in a statement, accused Governor Spitzer of not really having a plan at all, just " a proposal to enact drastic cuts".
Cunningham was embarrassed recently at a business breakfast in New York, when Governor Spitzer singled her group and the Greater New York Hospital Association out for criticism, saying they were "guardians of the status quo". Spitzer told the audience that the hospital CEO's in the group make millions of dollars a year in salaries and that the groups spend millions lobbying for proposals that he said were in their own self interest.
Spitzer says he won't hesitate to continue to take on the groups in the coming weeks, but denies that he has any personal animosity towards them.
Earlier this month, the Governor and legislature agreed that the state has $575 million additional dollars in the budget. But Spitzer says he won't use the money to restore the cuts to hospitals and nursing homes. The governor says if more money is to be spent on health care, he wants it to go to preventive measures like the ones he's already endorsed.