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Cuomo backs hospitals in spat over medical payments

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Embattled Gov. Andrew Cuomo is going to the mat again for the hospital industry — this time in a fight over medical billing payments with health insurers and labor unions, critics claim.

Opponents said the “pay and pursue” proposal backed by Cuomo would require health insurers to immediately pay hospital billing claims without first reviewing whether the treatment for patients was medically necessary, a move that could increase costs and waste.

The change in the billing law is being discussed for inclusion in the $200 billion adoption due Thursday, April 1.

Critics said the last minute push is reminiscent of Cuomo and the Legislature’s stealth action in last year’s budget — an amendment that shielded hospitals and nursing homes from medical malpractice liability during the peak of coronavirus pandemic. The proposal was not discussed publicly and hospital industry officials praised the immunity clause they lobbied for.

This action and other Cuomo administration pandemic policies — including a controversial directive requiring nursing homes to admit recovering coronavirus patients discharged from hospitals and undercounting COVID-19 nursing home deaths — are subjects of federal probes.

The pay and pursue proposal was not included in the governor’s executive budget plan submitted in January nor in budget resolutions recently advanced by the state Assembly and Senate.

“What other industry requires consumers to pay first before explaining how much the service will cost or whether it is really necessary? This would be a huge hidden tax on employers, union benefit funds, and working families and shouldn’t be slipped in at the last minute,” said New York Health Planning Association CEO Eric Linzer said.

Some influential unions also slammed the pro-hospital measure as irresponsible.

“This proposal will result in higher hospital costs that will eventually be borne by our members and ordinary New Yorkers,” said United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew. “Giving hospitals free reign to ‘get paid first and explain later’ is a recipe for trouble.”

Bill Hammond, a health analyst for the Empire Center for Public Policy said, “someone needs to look over the hospitals’ shoulder to make sure they’re not doing unnecessary procedures.”

But the hospital industry suggested it is the for-profit health insurers who are getting greedy by opposing a process to accelerate payments of medical bills before a medical review.

“The insurance companies have gotten the upper hand. They have wrongly convinced a few labor unions to oppose this proposal—even though it does not impact them. The issue boils down to this: support for local hospitals or for obscenely profitable insurance companies,” said Brian Conway, spokesman for the Greater New York Hospital Association.

During budget testimony before the Legislature last month, GNYHA said, “while hospitals were saving thousands of lives during the pandemic—and losing revenues while absorbing enormous new costs—for-profit insurance companies made huge amounts of money as they continued to collect premiums for care that was never delivered due to the lock down and shut down of non-emergency procedures.”

The pay and pursue plan, “would prevent insurers from abusing the medical review process by requiring them to pay legitimate inpatient and emergency room claims to in-network hospitals before requesting a medical review,” GNYHA testified.

Cuomo’s office confirmed it is backing the pro-hospital pay and pursue proposal.

“This proposal is an attempt to strike a balance between insurers and caregivers – a balance between the routine denial of claims and requiring proper billing practices,” said Cuomo budget spokesman Freeman Klopott.

One key lawmaker said the measure should be dealt with separately and not jammed into the budget.

“I don’t think it’s right to put this on the table in the last week of March in budget negotiations, with no opportunity for public review or comment,” said Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried.

“This doesn’t need to be done as part of a budget. If it’s a good proposal, it will still be good when we’ve had time to analyze and debate it.”

GNYHA and other hospital industry sources have contributed over $1.5 million to the governor and the state Democratic Committee that reports to him.

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Suspect arrested in fatal Brooklyn stabbing

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Police have apprehended a suspect in the fatal December stabbing of a Brooklyn man, cops said on Saturday.

The suspect, John Headley, 32, also of Brooklyn, was taken into custody Friday and charged with murder and weapons possession for the Dec. 12 knifing of Ken Baird, 37, police said.

Baird was stabbed multiple times in the chest following a dispute on Crown Street near Utica Avenue in Crown Heights at about 6:40 p.m., police said.

EMS transported Baird to King County Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, cops said.

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Man dies after jumping from Staten Island Ferry

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A 53-year-old man died Saturday after jumping from the Staten Island Ferry into the chilly waters of New York Harbor, police said.

NYPD Harbor launch officers pulled the man out of the water after responding to reports of a jumper near the Whitehall Ferry Terminal in Manhattan at around 2 p.m.

“He jumped off the ferry as it pulled away from the dock,” an NYPD spokesman told The Post. He jumped off the Ferryboat Andrew J. Barberi, police said.

The unidentified victim was removed to Pier 11 and transported to New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after 3:10 p.m.

A newsstand worker said there were “about 50 or so emergency people” at Pier 11 following a valiant effort — which included CPR — to save the man’s life.

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An NYPD spokesman says the 53-year-old man “jumped off the ferry as it pulled away from the dock.”

Michael Dalton

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The 53-year-old man was transported to New York-Presbyterian Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Michael Dalton

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Kemp Lashes M.L.B. as Republicans Defend Georgia’s Voting Law

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Mr. Kemp, who is gearing up to run for re-election in 2022, has striven to re-enter the good graces of Republican voters after becoming a central political target of former President Donald J. Trump because of his refusal to help Mr. Trump overturn the state’s election results last year. A former secretary of state of Georgia who has his own record of decisions that made voting harder for the state’s residents, he is again a key G.O.P. voice leading the charge on the issue.

On Saturday, he repeatedly tried to paint the league’s decision as driven by Stacey Abrams, the voting rights advocate and former Democratic candidate for governor in Georgia who is seen as likely to challenge Mr. Kemp again next year.

Ms. Abrams, one of the most prominent critics of Georgia’s voting law, has pushed back on calls for sports leagues and corporations to boycott the state. She said on Friday that she was “disappointed” baseball officials had pulled the All-Star Game but that she was “proud of their stance on voting rights.”

In defending the law in Georgia, Mr. Kemp singled out two Democratically controlled states, New York and Delaware, and compared their voting regulations with the new law in Georgia. Those states do not offer as many options for early voting as Georgia does, but they have also not passed new laws instituting restrictions on voting.

“In New York, they have 10 days of early voting,” Mr. Kemp said (New York actually has nine). “In Georgia, we have a minimum of 17, with two additional Sundays that are optional in our state. In New York, you have to have an excuse to vote absentee. In Georgia, you can vote absentee for any reason.”

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