PNS Daily Newscast - March 27, 2020 

The U.S. now has more confirmed coronavirus cases than any other country. Despite the pandemic, Election 2020 continues and states are making changes.

2020Talks - March 27, 2020 

3.3 million people reported being jobless last week, according to new Labor Department numbers. And Puerto Rico was supposed to hold primaries this weekend, though they pushed it back to late April, because of COVID-19.

The Empire State Strikes Back against Federal Healthcare Restrictions

September 27, 2007

New York leaders have opened a new battlefront against the Bush administration over health care. Fresh from a fight over extending "S-CHIP" health coverage to more children, the state is now challenging the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services over their refusal to cover emergency chemotherapy for immigrant cancer patients. According to Governor Eliot Spitzer, doctors, not bureaucracy, should determine emergency cancer treatment for immigrants.

"CMS by fiat, by bureaucratic resolution, has taken away from doctors perhaps the single most critical decision a doctor can make. That is what treatment is necessary in the context of a medical emergency."

Spitzer says the state will pick up the tab for treatment that Washington is walking out on. The dispute stems from a CMS audit and decree that New York may not use Medicaid funds for emergency chemotherapy for undocumented immigrants, or even legal immigrants living here for less than five years.

Health & Hospitals head Dr. Alan Aviles says the CMS denial is counterproductive.

"We care about our patients' health, not their immigration status. It would be unconscionable for us to encourage cancer screening and not be able to ensure immediate and full access to the chemotherapy that can effectively treat their cancer."

Over the past four years, New York paid $24 million for emergency chemotherapy. That's one-twentieth of one percent of total Medicaid expenditures in the state. CMS has withheld public comment on its New York audit and the new Medicaid rules. Amy Sugimori with La Fuente says the immigration issue clouds the need for all New Yorkers to be healthy.

"At the federal level, unfortunately, we’re seeing a lot of what I would call 'politicking.' Political statements dividing people based on people being immigrants or not being immigrants and we certainly can’t have a 'caste system' in which only certain people have access to health care."

Robert Knight/John Robinson, Public News Service - NY