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Spitzer Unveils Children's Health Coverage Initiative

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Incoming New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer says he will introduce a state budget that will call for children to have expanded access to health coverage.

Spitzer, a Democrat who previously was New York’s attorney general, announced Wednesday during a “state of the state” address that the budget will “guarantee access” to health insurance for all of the state’s 500,000 uninsured children.

Spitzer stopped short of saying his budget will require the state to pay for coverage for the 500,000 uninsured.

Spitzer said he also will take steps to get 900,000 uninsured adults who are eligible for Medicaid into the Medicaid system.

“Expanding access to health care will reduce state spending significantly in the long run, because seeing a primary care doctor costs far less than providing charity care for the same patient in an emergency room – and it leads to far better care,” Spitzer said.

New York also will increase efforts to manage care for patients with 2 or more chronic illnesses, who account for a disproportionately share of government health care expenditures, Spitzer said.

Other elements of Spitzer’s health care system change proposal include shutting down money-losing hospitals; bargaining for Medicaid program drug discounts from drug companies and pharmacy chains; and shifting toward use of community care, rather than nursing homes, to care for many older state residents.

The steps are necessary because state spending on Medicaid as a share of the state budget’s general fund has increased to 35%, from 14%, in just 15 years, Spitzer said.