SARANAC LAKE - A number of major health shake-ups by the Paterson administration have been propelling state Health Commissioner Dr. Richard Daines into the news recently: a wide range of plans to fight obesity, reimbursement cuts for inpatient care at hospitals and nursing homes, a program to lure doctors to rural areas and an Adirondack Medical Home Pilot program for rural health care.
Those things and more will be on Daines' agenda when he visits Saranac Lake Thursday and Friday and Lake Placid Saturday.
After visiting Plattsburgh and Elizabethtown, Daines will arrive here Thursday evening and meet with doctors and other care providers at Adirondack Medical Center. AMC - which has hospitals in Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, nursing homes in Lake Placid and Tupper Lake, and clinics in Tupper Lake and Keene - has been in advocacy mode recently, urging people to write to state officials in protest of the aid cuts Gov. David Paterson has in store for AMC and facilities like it. AMC officials warn that the cuts could prompt the closure of the Uihlein nursing home in Lake Placid, which they say operated on a $500,000 deficit last year.
State Health Commissioner Dr. Richard Daines
(Enterprise file photo — Peter Crowley)
Health Department spokeswoman Diane Mathis said the state is raising Medicaid reimbursement for outpatient care - aimed at preventing more-serious illness - as it lowers funding for inpatient care. Since "Medicaid is the single-largest payer of health care in New York state," Mathis said the state's goal is to use Medicaid to prompt private insurance payers to focus more on prevention.
On Friday morning, Daines plans to visit the Health Department office on St. Bernard Street and, in the same building, Northern Adirondack Planned Parenthood. Mathis said family-planning agencies like Planned Parenthood would benefit from the governor's Medicaid reimbursement rates since the medical services it provides, including abortions, are for outpatients.
Next, Daines plans to visit Petrova elementary and middle school to discuss the healthy food policy there.
"The Saranac Lake school district is ahead of the curve," Mathis said. To fight what he calls an obesity epidemic, the governor would ban schools from selling junk food and encourage healthy food, ban trans fats in restaurants, require chain restaurants to post calorie counts on menus and charge an 18-percent tax on high-sugar beverages such as nondiet sodas.
On Saturday, Daines will go to Lake Placid to address the New York State Medical Society at the Mirror Lake Inn and the New York State Academy of Family Physicians at the High Peaks Resort.
Contact Peter Crowley at (518) 891-2600 ext. 22 or firstname.lastname@example.org.