Letters to the editor

VOLUME 3, ISSUE 306 | February 05 – 11, 2004


Medicaid fix?

February 2, 2004

To the Editor:

As it if it is not bad enough that we have over three million fellow New Yorkers without any type of health insurance, now New York is about to make the poor that do have health insurance beg for their medication. For the last two years, Gov. Pataki has proposed the creation of a preferred drug list (PDL) and prior authorization (PA) process for those on Medicaid. (“AIDS Groups Mixed on Medicaid Fix,” by Duncan Osborne, Jan. 8-14).

The proposed plan would create a list of medications that will be available to Medicaid recipients. The State of New York, under the direction of a committee appointed solely by the governor, would decide which medications will be available on that list. Their decisions will be based on cost not on the quality of the medication available or the outcome for the patient. In other words, their effectiveness will take a back seat to cost.

I believe this proposal attacks the dignity and well being of poor New Yorkers and fails to take into account the science that proves that gender and ethnicity are important determinants in the effectiveness of any medication prescribed. One medication fits all is dangerous science that has significant detrimental outcomes for patients. The proposed policy’s impact on women and racial minorities is of great concern due to the fact that over 60 percent of Medicaid recipients are women and large number are African Americans and Hispanics.

Ninety-two percent of Americans over the age of 65 live independently. This has been achieved by advances in medicine and access to new medications that improve the quality of life. The governor’s plan tampers with this outcome in a way that can increase the number of elderly needing nursing home care. This plan also attempts to micro-manage the lives of millions of New Yorkers who depend on Medicaid.

Assemblymember Peter M. Rivera,

Chair, NYS Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force

Chair, NYS Assembly Mental Health Committee


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