BALCONY-Rochester Health Care Forum Report
Thank you to those who attended the Business and Labor Coalition of New York's BALCONY - Rochester, Health Care Forum on May 1st and to those who showed their support in seeking to reform New York's health care system. BALCONY, in cooperation with the American Cancer Society, National Federation of Independent Businesses, New York State United Teachers, Rochester and Genesee Valley Area Labor Federation AFL-CIO, Monroe Plan for Medical Care, Downtown Community Forum, Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency, IBEW Local 86, and Rochester University Medical Center,was pleased to bring together business and labor to engage in conversation and share information.



The forum was held at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School and was attended by more than 80 persons from labor unions, small businesses, health care providers, community advocacy groups and legislators. The event focused on updates on health care reform efforts at the local, state and national levels and on finding common ground between business and labor on practical solutions for improving New York's health care system.


The forum featured presentations and analysis of Federal and New York State Health Insurance and Care initiatives as well as a review of regional Rochester health care services. Introductions were made by Mark Cronin, Regional Vice President, Lakes Region, American Cancer Society and James Nofziger, Co-Chair of BALCONY-Rochester. A comprehensive review of regional Rochester health care was presented by Sarah Trafton, Associate Executive Director of
the Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency (click to view Trafton PowerPoint or the presentation in PDF format).
 
Congressman Eric Massa (NY-29th Cong Dist)
Congressman Eric Massa (NY-29th Cong Dist) presented a timely announcement stating that he is on the Homeland Security Committee and, as part of his assignment, is monitoring the recent Swine Flu Outbreak. Rep Massa further outlined his co-sponsorship for HR 676 which is the "United States National Care Act" as first introduced by Congressman John Conyers (D-MI).

"The United States National Health Care Act (USNHC) establishes a unique American universal health insurance program with single payer financing.  The bill would create a publicly financed, privately delivered health care system that improves and expands the already existing Medicare program to all U.S. residents, and all residents living in U.S. territories. The goal of the legislation is to ensure that all Americans will have access, guaranteed by law, to the highest quality and most cost effective health care services regardless of their employment, income or health care status. In short, health care becomes a human right. With 47 million uninsured Americans, and another 50 million who are underinsured, the time has come to change our inefficient and costly fragmented non-system of health care."

Rep Massa reported that Congress is seriously considering the HR 676 as well as other Universal Health Care proposals and hopefully will report out a bill this year.  For more information on the debate on National Health Insurance please click http://healthcareforamericanow.org/.

Lou Gordon, BALCONY Director
Concerning New York State plans for Universal Coverage, Lou Gordon, Director of BALCONY reported that the Partnership for Coverage task force of the New York State Insurance Department and New York State Department of Health has designated the Urban Institute to review several options for New York State. The full report is scheduled for release before the end of June.
 
Furthermore, Gordon outlined Governor David Paterson's health insurance initiatives designed to make health insurance more affordable and improve access to health care for more New Yorkers.
 
NYS Assemblyman Joseph Morelle
NYS Assemblyman Joseph Morelle, Chairman of Assembly Insurance Committee, outlined the health insurance reform package which his committee is considering. The four bills submitted to the Legislature will: (1) extend the period of time for the federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) coverage from 18 to 36 months; (2) permit families to cover their young adult dependents through age 29 under their job-based insurance; (3) require health insurers to get approval from the Superintendent of Insurance before increasing premium rates; and (4) enact a series of managed care reforms to protect the ability of consumers who have health insurance to timely access necessary health services.

 Click here to read the full press release http://www.ny.gov/governor/press/press_0515092.html.
 
Additional Panel Members
A panel discussion was moderated by Fran Weisberg, Executive Director, Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency where comments were made by James Bertolone, President of Rochester Labor Council, AFL-CIO, Michael Elmendorf, NYS Director of National Federation of Independent Business, Daniel E. Richardson, Director of Finance and Planning of Hamilton Manor & Latta Road Nursing Homes, and Peter G. Robinson, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of University of Rochester Medical Center. Closing remarks were made by Tom Gillett, Regional Director of New York State United Teachers and co-chair of BALCONY-Rochester.

View some of the Forum presentations: videos
 
In Closing...
Many of the participants offered positive comments about the Rochester BALCONY Health Care forum on the feedback forms provided, with 90% indicating a willingness to participate in a follow-up event. One wrote, "An excellent cross section of presenters and ideas. There is hope!"

As a direct follow-up, BALCONY and BALCONY-Rochester will monitor federal and state legislative initiatives.  We are planning a fall meeting to review the NYS Partnership for Coverage report as well updates on the federal efforts to Universal Coverage.

BALCONY is working with the United States Small Business Administration and with our members in the development of an ACCESS Forum for Small Businesses that will focus on access to capital, health care, technology, and federal procurement. Once the details are finalized we will schedule such an event for small business in Rochester.

Finally, we look forward to hearing back from you and hope you consider membership in BALCONY, the Business and Labor Coalition of New York. If you are interested in hearing more about membership in BALCONY-Rochester, please respond to one of us and we will follow up with you.

Sincerely,

Lou Gordon, Director, BALCONY -- loug@balconynewyork.com    
Thomas Gillett, Co-Chair, BALCONY-Rochester -- tgillett@balconynewyork.com
James Nofziger, Co-Chair, BALCONY-Rochester -- jnofziger@balconynewyork.com

View some of the presentations: videos
 
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