Health cuts harm rural communities

To the editor:

Gov. Cuomo’s executive budget includes a plan for consolidation and funding reductions for 30 disease prevention, public health and health workforce programs, including Rural Health Networks. RHNs sustained a funding reduction of more than 21 percent in the last state budget. If enacted, the additional 20 percent funding cut proposed for this year will force the North Country Behavioral Healthcare Network to drastically reduce services that support the behavioral health providers serving the North Country.

For the past 20 years, the Department of Health RHN program has recognized the unique challenges that rural health providers face in delivering services. The investment that New York state has made in the RHN program has paid huge dividends for our rural communities. NCBHN, along with our partner networks here in the North Country, has expanded access to care through health insurance enrollment, delivered prevention programs that reduce hospital admissions, bolstered our health care workforce, created a robust homeless prevention program and leveraged millions of additional federal, state and private foundation dollars to improve the health status of our rural residents.

To be very clear, vital services are in jeopardy. It is imperative that Albany lawmakers understand the value of these programs that save money and save lives. We need to send a message to Gov. Cuomo urging restoration of RHN funding in the 2018-19 state budget. It is time for New York state to adequately fund Rural Health Networks along with prevention, public health and workforce development programs.

For more information, please contact me at

Barry Brogan

North Country Behavioral Healthcare Network

Saranac Lake