For Immediate Release
January 20, 2021
New York Physicians: From Healthcare Heroes to Healthcare Zeros
Statement Attributable to:
Bonnie Litvack, MD
President, Medical Society of the State of New York
“Over the last year, tens of thousands of physicians across the State of New York put their health and the health of their families at risk to ensure patients receive the care they needed. Many of them became sick themselves and, sadly, some even passed away from COVID-19.
“Yet these physicians continue their work on the front lines every day to be there for their patients.
“That is why we are stunned by the litany of proposals in the Executive Budget that will make it even harder for physicians to continue to provide the care our patients need. We note that there are some positive aspects in this State Budget proposal, including to provide needed regulation over PBM practices and expanding the state’s capacity to manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) that physicians often lacked and have been the subject of enormous cost increases. However, we are extremely concerned with several other Budget proposals.
“One State Budget proposal would foist tens of thousands of dollars of new costs on physicians (totaling over $50 million) for keeping liability insurance protections that are absolutely necessary due to New York’s excessive medical liability premium costs. These liability costs far exceed any other state in the country. The substantial new costs will be near-impossible for many physicians to absorb given the enormous drop in patient visits and revenue experienced by physicians across the State over the last year. As an example, it would impose an approximate $20,000 new cost for an OB-GYN practicing on Long Island. If the Excess Insurance program is eliminated or reduced, then we need comprehensive medical liability reform instead.
“We are also perplexed by proposals to eliminate important due process protections for physicians against whom a complaint has been filed with the Office of Professional Medical Conduct. As we have previously stated, while we are anxious to work to identify gaps in our disciplinary system to protect the public, this Budget proposal would give the Commissioner of Health the authority in their sole discretion to disclose to the public that a complaint has been filed against a particular physician, despite the fact that very few complaints ever actually result in a finding of professional misconduct. This information can remain on the internet forever, potentially ruining a physician’s professional reputation. The law already permits the Commissioner to disclose information to the public when there is a public health threat.
“Another Budget proposal would impose huge cuts to the Committee for Physicians Health (CPH), a successful long-standing organization that provides essential counseling services for physicians confronting alcoholism, substance abuse, or mental illness. Many of these conditions have been exacerbated by the pandemic, making CPH more essential than ever. CPH provides important confidential peer to peer services to physicians in need of support for their health and well-being. Studies that review the long-term model effect of physician health programs show that physician recovery rates are markedly higher than the general population—even when extended into five years or more. If these cuts were to go through, it would substantially limit the work CPH can provide for physicians – and indirectly the public at large – at a time when the program is needed more than ever.
“These are just a few of the very concerning proposals in the state Budget. While we understand that the State is responding to the huge drop in revenue arising from the pandemic, these proposals will be the “last straw” for many physicians who already are finding it difficult to remain in practice to deliver patient care due to New York’s already notoriously hostile practice environment.
“We urge the Legislature to reject these unfair proposals in the State Budget.”
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Founded in 1807, the Medical Society of the State of New York is the state’s principal non-profit professional organization for physicians, residents and medical students of all specialties. Its mission is to represent the interests of patients and physicians to assure quality healthcare services for all.
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