NYS health commissioner visits Long Island


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New York State Health Department Commissioner James McDonald met with leaders on Long Island Thursday.

McDonald spoke with representatives from Long Island Association and Health & Welfare Council of Long Island to discuss healthcare and public health proposals in Gov. Kathy Hochul’s budget.

“These types of events allow New Yorkers to provide input and ask pertinent questions about critical issues that affect them and their families,” McDonald said in a written statement.

McDonald said that Hochul “has provided us with a comprehensive and visionary blueprint, and we want to assure New Yorkers that they will have the programs, services, and support they need and deserve.”

The $233 billion budget includes a 4.5% increase over last year’s budget, with healthcare as the largest single expense. In the budget, an investment in mental health would include 200 new inpatient psychiatric beds, youth mental health services and supportive housing units for people in need of mental health services. Hochul also proposed funding that officials say is designed to set the Medicaid program on sustainable long-term fiscal footing.

“Our economy and workforce depend upon a healthy population, and we thank Commissioner McDonald for his time today to brief the business community on the governor’s healthcare budget proposals,” Long Island Association President and CEO Matt Cohen said in a written statement.

“This type of dialogue is critical so the private sector is aware of new policies and available resources that could help them to improve their bottom line,” he added.

“We express our gratitude to Commissioner McDonald for shedding light on and discussing the sections of the NYS budget that directly relate to health and human service funding priorities,” Health and Welfare Council of Long Island President and CEO Vanessa Baird-Streeter said in a written statement.

“Addressing health disparities, enhancing health outcomes, and bolstering our public health system align with the core mission of the Health and Welfare Council and our community-based organizations,” she added. “Today, our organizations had the privilege of engaging with Commissioner McDonald, seeking answers to our inquiries, and equipping ourselves with the necessary information to better serve our clients.”

On Long Island, McDonald outlined the budget as well as state priorities, which include focusing on children and families, combatting climate change, rebuilding the mental health system, investing in education and Medicaid, advancing health care initiatives, improving affordability across the state and addressing the migrant crisis.

He also discussed maternal health, health insurance, primary care, the opioid epidemic, the support of veterans and emergency medical services.

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