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Unfunded mandates cost all of us

Unfunded mandates cost all of us

Extra hours for mammograms another example of state pushing costs onto businesses

If state officials are flummoxed over what's fueling complaints about the high cost of doing business in New York, it's this kind of stuff.

State officials have proposed requiring 152 general hospitals and 58 hospital extension clinics that perform mammograms to stay open an extra two hours, two days per week.

The idea is to make it more convenient for women to get potentially life-saving mammograms, which are used to diagnose breast cancer.

It's a noble idea and probably would make it more convenient for some women to get the exams, for instance, before work in the morning.

So, you might be saying, what's the big deal about this new mandate? It's only four hours a week. And it might help people get more screening.

First off, four hours a week isn't insignificant when taken over a whole year. Over 52 weeks, it requires the centers to be open an extra 208 hours a year — the equivalent of more than five 40-hour work weeks — affecting technicians, clerical staff, doctors and nurses who administer the exams.

For the 210 medical facilities affected statewide, that's a combined requirement for 43,680 extra hours per year. Still think the new mandate is insignificant?

Given that the hours will be an extension of existing hours, count on the hospitals having to pay workers overtime or to pull workers from other areas and adjust schedules to accommodate the extra hours.

This is a major new business expense, imposed by the state, with no additional funding to help struggling medical facilities pay for it. And they do it a lot.

Sometimes, they're open about it, as in the case of the much-publicized $15 minimum wage. The hospital hours mandate is one of the many sneakier ones.

Officials in state government routinely pass down these sorts of unfunded mandates to make it seem like they're doing something good for the constituents. It’s good politics.

But you and I ultimately pay for these mandates through higher costs for goods and services. And if those businesses can't afford the regulations, they either close, cut back, or move out of state, taking their jobs and their tax revenue with them.

Good politics doesn't always equal good government. And regularly imposing unfunded mandates on businesses isn't good government.

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