POLITICAL ARENA

Albany pays attention to COVID-19 in budget

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The recent state budget is not quite the final product — as Gov. Andrew Cuomo hinted recently during one of his daily coronavirus briefings — but there is help for those trying to get by in the midst of the pandemic.

One of the key pieces passed through the budget is $200 million of additional support to the Child Care Development Block Grant, as well as another $1 billion to the state’s unemployment insurance war chest to prepare for a large increase in claims.

It also will ensure that all private sector employees have between five to seven days of sick leave with their jobs, and even provide earned income tax credit to everyone who qualifies, even if they haven’t applied for it.

The budget also expands access to physical and mental health care providers over the telephone for those on Medicaid, and caps out-of-pocket expenses for a 30-day supply of insulin at $100.

If any prescription drug price jumps by 50 percent, the state’s financial services department will have the power to investigate why the price went up, and if there is any fraud taking place.

“This is not the budget we had hoped to pass at the beginning of session, or even the budget we had envisioned just a month ago,” said senate majority leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins in a release. “Our state’s financial situation has been thrust into a true economic crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic. Yet even in this crisis, we managed to achieve a balanced budget that includes victories for the people of New York.”

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