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HIV/AIDS Providers ask New York's governor to reverse Cuomo-era change

The New York state Capitol in Albany.(Vaughn Golden/WSKG)
The New York state Capitol in Albany.(Vaughn Golden/WSKG)

NEW YORK NOW - Facilities that provide medical services to underserved populations could take a hit under a policy change set to take effect next year in New York, and groups are now calling on Gov. Kathy Hochul and the state Legislature to intervene.

The change could disproportionately impact organizations that offer medical services for people living with HIV/AIDS, those groups said  in a letter to the Hochul administration Monday.

“This could force the shuttering of food pantries and the closure of AIDS clinics statewide, leaving many patients with few to no options that provide equivalent care and services,” the letter said.

The current policy, tied to a federal program, allows care providers in New York to buy prescription drugs at a discount, and then use those savings to provide medical care and services to uninsured individuals and underserved communities.

The program, called 340B, has been of particular benefit to providers that serve people living with HIV/AIDS, several of whom signed onto the letter to Hochul and the Legislature.

“Our facilities depend on funds generated from [the program] to provide care and services to 2.3 million underserved New Yorkers,” the letter said. “Approximately 70% of those individuals are people of color and nearly 90% are low-income.”

It’s being done away with as a cost-savings measure for the state. It was recommended by a panel convened by the former Cuomo administration to cut the state’s cost of Medicaid, which has ballooned in the last decade.

The change is  expected to save the state about $125 million the first year after it’s implemented, which the groups said would be incomparable to the individual loss for each participating organization.

“The modest revenue stream that the state would realize as a result of this proposal pales in comparison to the devastation that would be experienced by safety-net providers and the communities they serve,” the letter said.

The Cuomo administration had first planned to implement the change earlier, but Democrats in the Legislature struck a deal to delay the change to next year.

Lawmakers and the Hochul administration haven’t shown any signs of reversing that position, as of now.