Physicians, hospital administrators, biotech industry representatives and health plan officials Wednesday urged state legislators to reform a litany of state regulations that, they insist, stifle innovation and make it more difficult to deliver medical services.
The medical industry representatives spoke at a hearing in Buffalo held by four members of the State Senate majority coalition, the first of 10 forums scheduled across the state to generate ideas for regulatory-reform legislation in Albany.
The officials who testified Wednesday at Roswell Park Cancer Institute criticized current or proposed mandates that set strict rules on how patients are handled at hospitals, require the state to approve renovation work at hospitals, and place administrative burdens on doctors.
“Many well-intentioned solutions can quickly get out of hand when common sense is absent from the equation. The devil is always in the detail. Many times it is not the law or idea that is flawed, but the implementation,” Dr. Donald L. Trump, Roswell Park’s president and CEO, said at the hearing held in the hospital’s Research Studies Center.
The hearing is part of a statewide push by Republican state senators and their independent Democratic allies, who scheduled hearings over the next five weeks seeking suggested reforms to aid a variety of industries in the state.
They hope to introduce legislation to overturn or revise at least 1,000 specific regulations, though the fate of any bill in the Democrat-controlled Assembly is uncertain.
“Just as burdensome as the taxes in New York, of course, is its regulatory environment. It is tantamount to death by a thousand cuts,” said State Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan, R-Elma, who is leading the reform effort with his colleagues David S. Carlucci, a Rockland County Democrat; Kathleen A. Marchione, a Saratoga County Republican; and David J. Valesky, an Onondaga County Democrat.
All but Carlucci attended Wednesday’s hearing, where they were joined by State Sen. Mark J. Grisanti, R-Buffalo, and nine speakers representing a cross section of the local and New York medical field.
Trump cited several examples, including Roswell Park’s submitting to inspections by both a federal commission and a state agency; the state’s onerous licensing requirements for experienced doctors who got their medical education in a foreign country; and two pending, union-backed bills that would set nurse-to-patient staffing ratios and create a statewide safe-patient handling policy.
James R. Kaskie, president and CEO of Kaleida Health, also sought a change in the Safe Patient Handling Act to make the initiative voluntary, not mandatory, and he made the case for “meaningful” tort reform and a streamlining of the state’s certificate of need, or CON, process that health care institutions must follow before beginning an reconfiguration or new construction project.
Kaskie said hospitals in the state spend $1.6 billion annually on medical malpractice costs, driving up the price of insurance and leading physicians on staff to practice “defensive medicine” to avoid lawsuits. He argued for judicial reforms that include a cap on jury awards of damages in such cases.
“With, year after year, budget cuts coming out of Albany and Washington, D.C., many financially strapped hospitals cannot continue to provide high-quality care to all residents, throughout the state, without some relief in sight,” Kaskie said.
Dr. Thomas J. Madejski, a physician in Medina and the assistant treasurer of the Medical Society of the State of New York, urged the state to alter the provision in the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act that requires all physicians, registered nurses, psychologists and clinical social workers to report any patient who they believe is a threat to herself or someone else.
This reporting standard is too broad, Madejski said, and should apply only to mental health professionals and only in cases when the threat is “imminent.” New requirements such as this one make the practice of medicine an administrative nightmare, he contended.
“We remain very committed to delivering care in our communities, but so much of our time now is taken up by nonmedical tasks,” Madejski said.
And Jessica M. Crawford, president of the MedTech Association, which represents bioscience and medical technology companies in the state, sought greater transparency as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Medicaid Redesign Team decides which medical technologies will no longer be covered through Medicaid.
Among the association’s members that have a stake in this process is Medtronic, which makes an implantable infusion pump that delivers pain medication. Crawford contended that this and other technologies require an upfront financial investment by the state but will lead to savings down the road.
Other speakers included representatives of BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, Independent Health, the Pharmacists Association of Western New York, the Medical Society of Erie County, and Palladian Health.