Testimony at the Rochester Area Budget Forum by Andrea DeMeo
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Testimony at the Rochester Area Budget Forum by Andrea DeMeo

Feb 17, 2021

Good evening.

Thank you for your time and the opportunity to speak on the NYS budget.

I am Andrea DeMeo, President and CEO of Trillium Health -we are an FQHC Look Alike and Ryan White HIV clinic.

When the state budget was passed last year, it included a provision that moves an important benefit that safety net providers rely on, known as the 340B drug discount to Medicaid fee for service—which if enacted as planned on April 1, will financially devastate safety net providers across the state and in Rochester.

And it will cause an immediate disruption in services to hundreds of thousands of our most disenfranchised New Yorkers and a loss of jobs. Trillium alone will lose more than $5 million annually and will force us to eliminate or dramatically reduce life-saving services to our community like food, housing, and basic needs such as refrigerators to store insulin.

People will suffer. And make no mistake— the very same people that have been disproportionately affected by COVID—will die. And all the progress to address the opioid and HIV epidemics- which are now further exacerbated by the pandemic—will be undone.

The Governor needs to understand that this will be Armageddon. Clearly, we are still in the midst of the pandemic. What sense does it make to cut services to our sickest and poorest community members; create crippling financial hardship to the very health centers like Trillium Health that are called upon to address health disparities and to ensure that we get vaccines into the arms of our Black and Brown community members; and cause further economic instability.

Businesses have closed, restaurants have closed, and now if this provision goes into effect as planned, community health centers will close or dramatically need to cut services.

We need the 340B drug discount program benefit to sustain our services. We support finding cost controls for Medicaid spending, but the solution to control Medicaid spending is not a short sighted, un-vetted budget reduction nor the proposed 340B reimbursement fund in the executive budget as it is simply not adequate enough to cover our losses.

I ask that and you and your colleagues in the legislature pass A.1671 and S.2520, that calls for a delay in this provision and gives us time to find an equitable long-term solution that doesn’t land on the backs of our most vulnerable New Yorkers and the health centers putting forth exhaustive efforts to turn the tide on the spread of COVID while at the same time ensuring equitable access to healthcare for all.

Please stand up for us before it is too late. The clock is ticking. In the name of Public Health—Trillium Health, our Rochester community, and hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers need you.