The State Senate has unanimously passed a special budget amendment (S.6063) to appropriate $350,000 for the Schenectady Free Clinic. The legislation would restore State funding which was unexpectedly withdrawn by Governor Spitzer earlier this year.
"The Free Clinic is a national model in successfully delivering cost-effective patient-centered health care," said State Senator Hugh T. Farley (R,C - Schenectady), sponsor of the legislation. "I'm pleased that the Senate has acted to save the Clinic."
The Clinic was created by legislation authored by Senator Farley in 2002. Since opening in 2003, the Clinic's volunteer doctors and nurses have provided millions of dollars worth of free health care and medications to uninsured Schenectady residents. In addition, Ellis, St. Clare's, and Sunnyview hospitals have donated laboratory and diagnostic services, and numerous businesses and foundations have donated equipment, supplies and services.
Following Governor Spitzer's decision to withdraw State funds from Schenectady, the community rallied behind the Clinic. The Schenectady County Legislature appropriated $50,000 in emergency funding, the City of Schenectady has pledged financial assistance, foundations have offered additional funding, and pharmaceutical companies have stepped up programs providing drug samples and subsidies for Clinic patients.
"The Free Clinic provides pre-employment physicals for uninsured job applicants," Senator Farley explained. "I'm told that over 275 of the Clinic's patients got jobs last year, adding tremendous value to the Clinic's role in improving the lives of people in Schenectady."
The Senate-passed legislation now goes to the Assembly.