Response to Governor Hochul’s 2024 State of the State Address

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On Tuesday, January 9, Governor Kathy Hochul presented her annual State of the State address to fellow New Yorkers. Nora OBrien-Suric, PhD, President of the Health Foundation for Western & Central New York, offers this response on behalf of the trustees and staff:

“We’re heartened to note several initiatives in Governor Hochul’s State of the State that prioritize health equity and expanding access to affordable care, especially for our focus populations of young children and older adults.

Here are some highlights:

Comprehensive support for maternal care

The governor pledged to expand access to services for maternal health support, especially for Black and Brown mothers who continue to be disproportionately affected by complications during and after pregnancy. Her plan includes the creation of the nation’s first paid prenatal leave benefit, which would include 40 hours of paid leave to attend medical appointments for prenatal care.

The governor’s maternal support plan also calls for greater access to doulas without a referral. Doulas are trained, nonclinical labor coaches whose services can improve pregnancy, birth, and postpartum outcomes. The governor also mentioned stricter accountability measures for unnecessary surgical procedures such as cesarean sections.

We support these measures because we understand—through the frontline work of our grantee-partners—that comprehensive maternal health support makes a positive and measurable difference.

Expanding access to affordable health care

The 2024 State of the State address laid out several other initiatives to reform and strengthen health care delivery in New York:

  • Expanding access to better, more affordable primary care through the marketplace
  • Providing continuous coverage in Medicaid and Child Health Plus for children ages zero through six through an intent to apply for Section 1115 Medicaid Waiver authority to do so
  • Protecting low-income New Yorkers from being sued by hospitals because of consumer medical debt
  • Proposing a ban on co-pays for lifesaving insulin for anyone covered by a state-regulated insurance program
  • Creating a multifaceted plan to address health care workforce shortages
  • Supporting providers and encouraging more collaboration by launching the Health Care Safety Net Transformation Program, which will benefit from the recent approval of the Section 1115 Medicaid Waiver amendment
  • Improving access to mental health and substance abuse services for adults and children, including expanding out-of-network coverage, improving screening processes, and offering school-based clinics

We support all measures that can ensure access to quality, affordable health insurance for every New Yorker. We look forward to reviewing Governor Hochul’s budget to better understand the specifics behind the priorities laid out in her State of the State address.”

Governor Hochul’s spoken remarks were accompanied by the publication of the 2024 State of the State online book, which outlined her proposals in greater detail. You can access the book here.