Here’s an oddly volatile moment between Andrew Cuomo’s current spokesman, Josh Vlasto, and NYPRIG’s Blair Horner, who, if you’ll recall, once worked for Cuomo. At issue is Cuomo’s plan to redesign Medicaid, which was crafted with “stakeholders” within the health care field, but not any group representing patients.
Blair Horner, legislative director of the New York Public Interest Research Group, said Cuomo made a “naked political deal” with hospitals on malpractice to get their support for a painful 2-percent cut in Medicaid reimbursement.
“It’s appalling,” said Horner, who was distributing fact sheets around the Capitol showing that New York’s malpractice payouts have declined in in the past four years. Yet, malpractice insurance rates for hospitals and doctors have increased faster than inflation, which Horner said should be investigated separately.
Cuomo aides said the plans came after Medicaid hearings across the state.
“It is absurd to brand as a political deal an open process that produced meaningful results with shared pain on all sides,” said Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto in a statement. “Evidently, old-style Albany special interest attacks during the budget process have not ended — they are merely being carried out by surrogates. In this case, Blair Horner is the mouthpiece for the trial lawyers.”
UPDATE: Horner emails me to add:
“Pretty funny the best insult a career mouthpiece can come up with is to call someone a mouthpiece. It’s not about personal insults, it’s about the cruel impact that could result from the deal cut by the governor.”
UPDATE II: Liz Benjamin chimes in: “I’m not sure how it is that Horner could be characterized as a handmaiden for trial lawyers.”