News from the Associated Press - July 31, 2014

Associated Press
July 31, 2014

NY to appeal federal Medicaid claim for $1.25B

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The New York Health Department says it will appeal a federal claim for the return of more than $1.25 billion in Medicaid funds, saying federal authorities previously approved that funding and the claw back could hurt the state's health care system.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says it issued the "disallowance" last week, which was discussed at a congressional hearing Tuesday, along with an audit report saying New York was overpaid another $200 million that should be refunded.

The $1.25 billion claim stems from New York's care in 2010-2011 for the developmentally disabled in large institutions, which are being phased out.

The state's Medicaid spending for 5.8 million low-income New Yorkers' health care was $55.6 billion last year, half reimbursed by the federal government.


Cuomo: speed up medical pot for kids with epilepsy

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York's governor wants to speed up the implementation of the state's new medical marijuana law to help children with epilepsy get medication more quickly.

Right now it's expected to take 18 months for the state to get the medical marijuana program up and running. Many parents of children with epilepsy had said that is too long to wait.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday wrote to the state's health commissioner asking if the process can be accelerated.

Earlier this month New York became the 23rd state to authorize medical marijuana for patients with diseases including AIDS, cancer and epilepsy.

Parents of children with epilepsy were among the staunchest supporters for the new law, saying medical marijuana has shown promise in helping children with the condition.

Winemakers want NY to deny gas storage permits

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Finger Lakes winemakers and other business owners are asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to deny permits for natural gas and propane storage facilities in former salt mines along Seneca Lake.

Opponents of Houston-based Crestwood Midstream's project are holding a news conference in Albany Wednesday afternoon to outline their objections. They say it would endanger one of the state's largest supplies of drinking water, the local economy, and the region's wine and tourism industry.

The project, which would expand natural gas storage capacity and add underground propane storage, is awaiting permits from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The Schuyler County Legislature passed a resolution in June calling for state approval of the project, saying the salt caverns have been used for natural gas and propane storage for decades without incident.


Corbett, coal interests rally before EPA hearings

PITTSBURGH (AP) — More than 2,000 union workers and others organized by the coal industry in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia are rallying in Pittsburgh to oppose new proposed pollution regulations.

Gov. Tom Corbett told reporters before speaking to the crowd in a minor league soccer stadium Wednesday that a clean environment is important. But he said environmental regulations on coal-fired power plants have to strike a balance with the state's energy needs.

Corbett said if the regulations lead to closure of too many power plants, there may not be enough electricity for residents of the commonwealth.

The Environmental Protection Agency is holding hearings Thursday and Friday on the proposed stricter regulations.