Cuomo's Proposal on Controlling Prescription Drug Costs Under Microscope

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Top health officials in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration say they're prepared to handle a repeal of the federal Affordable Care Act, even as the executive budget itself doesn't reflect the uncertainty in Washington. 

"We will do what we need to make sure New York gets the care that they need and anyone losing potential health care coverage will be addressed," said Health Commissioner Howard Zucker.

For nearly five hours Thursday, Zucker and Cuomo's Medicaid czar Jason Helgerson were quizzed by lawmakers on the budget, defending proposals such as a plan to control prescription drugs costs. 

"We are well aware that other states have had proposals challenged in the courts. We are confident the governor's proposal will stand up to any legal scrutiny," said Helgerson.

Assemblyman John McDonald, a pharmacist, wasn't totally convinced. 

"I was actually surprised to hear that. It has not done well in other states, but obviously the way they've designed this, they feel confident," said McDonald, D-Cohoes.

Lawmakers also nudged health officials to expand the medical marijuana program through adding more dispensaries.  

"We have an excess product. We don't have excess patients. We still need to build a patient base. We need to engage more doctors," said state Sen. Diane Savino, D-Staten Island.

Zucker, meanwhile, also touted the state's efforts to filter chemical contamination from water in Hoosick Falls. 

"It's very important to recognize the water in Hoosick Falls is not contaminated. It is probably the among the cleanest water in the entire state. For that matter, it's probably the cleanest water in the entire nation," Zucker said.

Hoosick Falls residents are currently facing another scare with the discovery by Honeywell of violatile organic compounds. Zucker says that situation is being monitored.

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