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RATH IS WORKING DILIGENTLY TO REFORM MEDICAID, HEALTH CARE

No one can disagree that there is a glaring need for reform in the governing process in Albany. The frustration expressed by a recent writer in The News is certainly widely shared, not the least by those of us who work in long-term care, an arena where the status quo, if left unchanged, will soon lead to collapse and the loss of services for our growing population of frail elderly and people with disabilities.

In that light, the criticism of Sen. Mary Lou Rath seems particularly misplaced. As a member of the Senate Medicaid Reform Task Force in 2003-2004, she assumed responsibility for directing the task force's efforts in long-term care. In the 15 years I have worked in Albany, I have never seen anyone work harder and with more success on this complex issue than Rath.

She recognizes immediately that the issue is not simply about Medicaid, but rather about reshaping the entire system of care delivery. The recommendations in the task force report, as they applied to long-term care, were generally right on the money. The recently concluded legislative session included adoption of some of these recommendations, and there is universal recognition that more needs to be done in 2005.

The issues involved in reforming Medicaid, and particularly long-term care, do not lend themselves to quick fixes. But failure to address them now will lead to a financial and moral crisis.

Carl S. Young

President, NYAHSA

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