Possible state cuts to Medicaid for medical graduate students have advocates speaking out

Mar 20, 2019

Mark Taubman, CEO of University of Rochester Medical Center
Credit Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

Although Governor Andrew Cuomo has recently pulled back on state proposals to cut Medicaid, local unions and hospital workers are still fighting for funding.

Leaders of 1199SEIU and University of Rochester Medical Center employees spoke out against the cuts.

They say these cuts would eliminate millions in Medicaid funding that supports Graduate Medical Education at five academic medical centers across the state, including URMC.

"Demand for medical care is increasing, and there is a shortage of physicians to meet it,” Mark Taubman, CEO of URMC said. “Yet the state budget may reduce graduate medical education, instead of expanding it. The state budget may penalize medical centers that care for the neediest patients, instead of rewarding them."

He says over 70 percent of students stay in New York through their residencies and careers. URMC has 750 students now in its residency and fellowship programs.

Bruce Popper, Vice President of the local 1199SEIU chapter, says the proposed cut would be have a disproportionate hit on the community.

"So if one were to fashion the worst possible proposal to negatively impact the economy of our community, its largest employer, its outstanding education of doctors, and the health care of its neediest residents, this would be it. To cut Medicaid funding and cut support for graduate medical education," Popper said.

Sixty-six union members traveled to Albany Tuesday to rally at the state capitol. Popper says Albany "shouldn’t balance the budget on the backs of these workers."