Jan. 31, 2017

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Advocacy efforts open on strong note for SUNY hospitals

uupdate 1-31-17

One after another, lawmakers Jan. 31 firmly pledged to support SUNY’s hospitals and health sciences centers, in a consistently open and direct show of solidarity with UUP members on their first advocacy day of the budget season.

Members described their round of talks with senators and Assembly members as constructive and encouraging.

Statewide Treasurer Rowena Blackman-Stroud, en route with a group of Downstate chapter members to a scheduled meeting with her home district Assembly member, Brooklyn Democrat Nick Perry, spontaneously stopped by Sen. Kevin Parker’s office. He is another Brooklyn Democrat, from the 21st District, and another strong SUNY Downstate supporter. The senator was in, and Blackman-Stroud described the quick conversation as highly constructive.

That reflected the tone throughout the day, which UUP designated for special emphasis on the hospitals and health sciences centers.

They’re with us

Perry reviewed the handouts that list UUP's legislative agenda and told the group, “I fully support all that is suggested here.” Another Downstate group received a similarly encouraging reaction from Assemblyman Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn), who told that group, “I'm 100 percent behind everything you're looking for."

Jamie Dangler, UUP’s statewide VPA, led delegations to the offices of Republican Sen. James Seward (R-Oneonta) and Assembly Member Ellen Jaffee (D-Suffern). Rockland County. Seward’s district includes Oneonta, Cobleskill, and also Dangler’s home campus of Cortland.

Lawmakers familiar with the straits of the cash-strapped SUNY hospitals are “very concerned about what will happen with the Affordable Care Act,” Blackman-Stroud said. “They are going to work with us, but they are also encouraging us to work with all lawmakers, to maximize funding.”

In addition to the hospitals, Dangler made a strong pitch for more full-time faculty and a plan that would recruit and support students from economically disadvantaged communities for SUNY’s teacher education programs.

In speaking to the desperate need for more full-time faculty—UUP seeks an increase of 1,500 positions—Dangler told Seward staffers that “The ability to service the full range of student needs is not being met because we don't have enough full-time faculty.”

Affordable Care Act repeal looms

UUP stands likely to get the attention of all lawmakers this year on the topic of SUNY hospitals, as Donald Trump has set in motion the first steps toward the repeal of the Affordable Care Act— although a Republican Congress has yet to publicize a replacement plan. At the state level, legislators know that whatever their opinion of the ACA, its repeal may create chaos in state budgets if hundreds of thousands of people suddenly find themselves uninsured.

UUP is asking that the annual hospital subsidy be restored to the $153 million; the existing state subsidy is less than half that amount.

Five dozen members divided into small groups for maximum reach, and paired members and leaders when possible with lawmakers from their campus districts.

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