Shah To Address GNYHA Annual Meeting

State Health Commissioner Nirav Shah will speak at the Greater New York Hospital Association’s annual meeting in NYC next Thursday, the organization announced today.

Shah will be joined by Dr. Atul Gawande, a Harvard Medical School professor and staff writer for The New Yorker who will discuss “overcoming the cost and complexity of health care” – two topics that are a frequent focus of his writing.

Shah will be talking about “the changing face of health care in the context of the recently enacted New York State budget,” which dovetails nicely into the topic of GNYHA President Ken Raske’s speech: “How hospitals must do more with less in an era of fiscal austerity and unprecedented health care reform.”

GNYHA, as you’ll recall, was invited by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to participate in the Medicaid Redesign Task Force along with its health care workers union partner, SEIU 1199.

This was widely hailed as a very shrewd political move by Cuomo, who successfully neutralized two of the most hard-hitting special interests from the annual budget battle by turning them into allies instead of combatants.

Both 1199 and GNYHA ended up getting something in exchange for signing off on Medicaid reforms. The union saw a living wage for home health care workers while the hospitals got the creation of a medical indemnity fund for neurologically impaired infants that is expected to dramatically reduce their insurance costs in the long term.

More >

Dems Running All Over Buerkle’s Votes

Here’s the sound and text of House Majority PAC’s new radio ad targeting GOP freshman Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (NY-25) for her vote in favor of Rep. Paul Ryan’s 2012 budget plan, which Democrats insist will “end Medicare as we know it.”

Jimmy V. points out on CapCon that the Republicans are questioning the veracity of this spot and also noting that Ryan’s proposal wouldn’t impact any seniors currently on Medicare.

Interesting aside for inside baseball types: I received this information from Ryan Rudominer, a former DCCC staffer who worked on ex-Rep. Scott Murphy’s successful campaign against Assemblyman Jim Tedisco in the 2009 special election in NY-20.

Rudominer and several others from the DCCC are now working on this PAC, one of several independent expenditure operations the Democrats launched to counter the wave of GOP-supporting outfits that dominated the 2010 cycle.

VO: “Ann Marie Buerkle says her favorite hobby is running. But she’s been running way too fast in the wrong direction.”

“Because Buerkle just voted for the Republican budget that raises the share of the tax burden on the middle class. And Buerkle’s plan threatens to end Medicare as we know it. That’s right, end Medicare as we know it. It even increases seniors’ prescription drug costs.”

“We’re not done yet. Buerkle’s budget cuts taxes by trillions for big corporations and the wealthiest Americans. Congresswoman Buerkle even said:

BUERKLE: “I have a real problem with taxing the rich because they make a certain amount of money.”

VO: “Ann Marie Buerkle. She likes to run. But come election time…look out! She won’t be able to outrun her record.”

“Paid for House Majority PAC. Not authorized by any candidate or candidates committee. House Majority PAC is responsible for the content of this advertising.”

Yonkers Mayoral Hopeful: Drug Test Top Officials

Yonkers Republican mayoral candidate John Murtagh would seek random drug screenings for city officials including the mayor, deputy mayor and other city officials.

The drug tests would also be applied to Board of Education employees and workers who operate machinery and drive city vehicles.

“If a Yonkers employee is driving a public vehicle or performing in a ‘high risk’ job, the public reasonably deserves to know that the City is doing what it can to ensure that drugs and alcohol are not an issue,” Murtagh said in a statement. “Yonkers has an excessively large fleet of ‘take-home’ cars, and the City has a responsibility to make sure their drivers are sober and safe. Let’s not wait for some tragic accident to pass this bill; let’s do the smart thing and pass it before a tragedy occurs.”

An employee testing positive would be censured and brought before the Board of Ethics. An employee who refuses would be subject to dismissal, according to the proposed legislation.

Tedisco: In Honor Of Earth Day, Dump Paper

On the eve of Earth Day, Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, R-Saratoga,  is renewing his call for the Legislature to go paperless.

“On Earth Day, as Assembly members, we can do our part to reduce the Legislature’s carbon footprint and save taxpayers money by unsubscribing from the Legislative Digest and scores of other paperwork that’s already accessible online,” Tedisco said. “Hundreds of thousands of pieces of paper are needlessly printed each year by the Legislature, much of it going unread and tossed into landfills. This is no way to treat Mother Earth or taxpayers funds.”

Tedisco is trying to eliminate the paper used by the state’s paper-happy Legislature, which often stacks multiple-foot-high bills on lawmakers’ desks.

Tedisco raised the issue during the budget debate, appearing with a huge stack of spending bills on his desk. The lawmaker determined it costs the state $13 million to print the paper bills.

Log Cabin Republicans: Count Us In

The Log Cabin Republicans, the organization for gay GOPers, announced today it would join the coalition of gay-rights groups that have joined forces in the effort to legalize same-sex marriage this year in New York.

“Marriage is not a progressive or conservative issue. It’s an issue of equal rights for taxpaying citizens of this state,” said Gregory T. Angelo, Chairman of the Log Cabin Republicans of New York State. “For the first time, we are truly united in our fight to ensure every single New Yorker has the right to marry the person he or she loves.”

New Yorkers United For Marriage now includes The Empire State Pride Agenda, Freedom to Marry, The Human Rights Campaign and Marriage Equality New York.

“We are thrilled to have Log Cabin Republicans join the coalition,” said Brian Ellner of the Human Rights Campaign in a statement. “It was a bipartisan coalition that repealed “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” and it will be a bipartisan coalition that will win marriage here in New York.”

A bill that would legalize gay marriage failed in the Senate in 2009 38-24 despite Democratic control of the chamber. A bill would need several Republican lawmakers to sign onto the measure. The coalition has already identified Sens. Jim Alesi of Monroe County, Greg Ball of the Hudson Valley and Roy McDonald as possible yes votes.

Giuliani On ‘Sick’ Gotti Film, Spitzer’s Extortion

Rudy Giuliani joined Curtis Sliwa on the radio this morning to commiserate with the shock jock as he prepares to go under the knife for prostate cancer treatment and opine on a range of topics – from John Travolta’s plan to play mob boss John Gotti Sr. (“sick”) to whether ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer would make a good NYC mayor (“no”).

Giuliani, who is a prostate cancer survivor himself, assured Sliwa he’ll “come out of this just fine” and also took the opportunity to remind men to get tested, even starting as early as 10 years before the recommended age of 50.

The former mayor had some very strong words for the upcoming Gotti movie, which he says will do nothing but “glorify” hardened criminals. (It turns out he’s not alone on this one, and he’s got some very personal reasons for feeling this way).

He also recalled his days as a prosecutor, and said Gotti Sr. was “disgusting”, “horrible” and “not very intelligent,” adding:

“He was a dumb moron, and the idea of glorifying this guy who enjoyed showing up at killings because he enjoyed watching them is sick.”

Giuliani was his usual coy self regarding whether he might run for president in 2012, saying he’ll likely make a few more trips to New Hampshire to “see what the landscape is.” He repeated his line about the need for someone strong to challenge President Obama, adding: “Another four years of this president, and the damage will be irreparable to our economy and our national security.”

The former mayor laughed out loud when Sliwa asked for his thoughts on speculation that Spitzer might run for his old job in 2013, saying:

“I can’t imagine that Eliot Spitzer wants to run for public office again after what he did while he was in the last two public offices as attorney general and as governor.”

“It isn’t just his personal misconduct, it’s the way he conducted himself as attorney general – the cases he brought to extort people…Because of the scandal that surrounded him, people forget the case he brought against (former NYSE head) Dick Grasso was thrown out of court. People forget the guy won his cases basically by extortion out of the courtroom.”

Here And Now

Former Gov. George Pataki, who hasn’t ruled out a potential 2012 presidential run, has a new advocacy group – No American Debt – that will pressure White House candidates to tackle the country’s ever-mounting deficit.

In the absence of immigration reform, Latinos and Democrats are pressuring the president to use his executive pwoers to curb deportations.

Mayor Bloomberg is updating PlaNYC today, and will call for installing solar panels on 250 of the city’s 3,000 shuttered landfills.

The mayor will also announce the city’s plan to open a new corporation that will operate a loan program to fund projects that save energy and reduce utility bills.

The Council 82 contract deal includes a negative retirement incentive that is spurring some members to file their papers early.

The MTA is selling its midtown HQ and hopes to net more than $150 million to help close its budget deficit.

Ken Sunshine, an associate producer of “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the Musical”, is behind the governor’s upcoming fundraiser at the show.

NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn quietly met with federal officials over access to records of illegal immigrants on Rikers, putting her at odds with the mayor on this sensitive topic.

Same-sex marriage advocates have launched a coordinated effort to push the bill through the Senate with help from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Former LG Richard Ravitch, who served the state for free, recently received a tax bill for his “fringe” benefit of a state-funded car and driver.

Mike Huckabee fared the best of all the would-be GOP contenders – even Donald Trump – in a New York Times/CBS poll.

More >

Diaz ‘Deeply Offended’ By Gay Marriage Timing

Sen. Ruben Diaz, an outspoken opponent of legalizing same-sex marriage in New York, released a statement slamming Gov. Andrew Cuomo for what he sees as an effort to mobilize the gay community during Holy Week.

Diaz, a Pentecostal minister and Bronx Democrat, accused Cuomo of “targeting communities of faith” during the week of Passover and the run-up to Good Friday and Easter.

From the statement:

We all know that Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Budget, which was done in haste to beat the clock, will cause tremendous suffering to countless New Yorkers – especially Black and Hispanic communities. His cuts will hurt students, senior citizens, the sick, the poor and the needy. Now Governor Cuomo is targeting communities of faith in an effort to redefine marriage. The most basic tenets of New York’s largest faith communities include defining marriage as between one man and one woman. These religions that cherish these values include Catholic, Christian, Jewish and Muslim.

The lawmaker was responding to the news that a coalition of gay-rights groups were consolidating their efforts to successfully legalize gay marriage this year. Cuomo himself has said he wants to legalize gay marriage by the end of the current legislative session.

Timing for Diaz, apparently, is everything. The statement issue this afternoon was familiar to what he said this time last year in response to news that then-Gov. David Paterson’s plans to introduce a gay marriage bill. Last year, Diaz said he was ready to call an emergency session of the New York Hispanic Clergy, saying, “I think this is the wrong time to do it,” Diaz Sr. said. “(Paterson) is doing this as a welcoming ceremony for the new Catholic? It’s ridiculous.”

The full Diaz statement is after the jump: More >


Now that the State Farm Bureau has settled the state vegetable question, it’s on to a new fight over the official state dog.

Barack Obama’s mother was very complicated.

Jay Kenneth Klinge, who helped Ronald Reagan make the jump from TV to president in 1980, has joined the Draft Trump 2012 Committee.

The Donald will meet some real live voters in the first primary state of New Hampshire.

Trump placed a courtesy call to South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, considered a key “get” for would-be presidential candidates.

Former Cuomo 2010/Hillary Clinton/Sen. Chuck Schumer aide Phil Singer is now working (as a consultant) for Wal-Mart.

Henry Goldman, Bloomberg’s man on Bloomberg, has a tough job.

Goldman hasn’t yet landed an exclusive with his boss/the mayor, but he did get a special present from him: A rock.

Former White House spokesman Robert Gibbs will speak at Union College Monday.

An expert called a Shinnecock Nation-run casino on Long Island “semingly impossible” due to legal and political hurdles.

Layoffs have started in the state court system.

Former state Democratic Chairwoman June O’Neill has returned to work at the state Comptroller’s Office.

Effective May 4, the Office of Court Administration is eliminating 58 full-time positions, from computer programmers and data entry clerks to attorneys and secretaries, as well as 16 temporary positions.

The Wiffle ball industry was mystified by the game’s inclusion on the state Health Department’s now-scrapped list “non-passive recreational activities with a significant risk of injury.”

AG Eric Schneiderman has reached a multimillion dollar settlement with two utility companies over alleged deceptive marketing tactics.

Mayor Bloomberg opened the “Scream Zone” amusement park in Coney Island today. Oh, the irony.

The Associated General Contractors of New York State hired the Business Council’s Walter Pacholczak.

Terror Alert Warning Memo Vs. Nick Cage Freakout Level

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano today unveiled the new terror alert warning that will replace the color-coded system put in place shortly after 9/11.

As pointed out on Today, the new warning system reads more like a memo and will harness the reach social networking sites to convey messages to the public.

But, if you’re also wondering how much you should freak out as a result of each warning, perhaps the Nick Cage Terror Alert System will be more helpful (courtesy of Conan).