Virtually all recent news stories about the New York Medicaid system include a reference to the program’s troubling financial problems. This weekend Lower Hudson News explained how last year alone the state paid $53 billion on Medicaid services–the highest figure in the country. The budgetary concerns have been exacerbated as of late as demand continues to increase. There were 46,000 new enrollees in the program in the four-month stretch from April to July alone. The cost of the program is leading policymakers at all levels to propose alterations to protect its long-term viability. Most of those proposals include changing the way that payments are made, limiting those who qualify for the program, and shrinking the services available to participants.
Our New York elder law attorneys are well aware of the impact that Medicaid changes may have on many residents. Medicaid is the only option for most elderly patients who do not have insurance to pay for nursing home costs which average over $120,000 a year. Unfortunately, many families fail to plan ahead for these situations, ultimately ending up on Medicaid when they discover that a loved one is in immediate need of long-term care. On top of that, many families are forced to spend down their assets in order to qualify, because they fail to utilize a New York Medicaid Asset Protection Trust to shelter their property ahead of time.
The need to maintain personal assets may become even more important for local families as cuts to the services provided mean that residents will need to pay for supplemental care on their own. A state task force known as the Medicaid Redesign Team will apparently soon enact managed care and spending caps. The task force has reportedly saved the state over $100 million as of August through various efforts, and many more changes on the horizon. For example, one popular initiative seeks to transition some residents out of institutional care and into community-based services.
In addition to spending caps, price controls, and expanded managed-care programs, local lawmakers are also seeking to ease the Medicaid burden on county governments. Local property taxes in many areas are skyrocketing because counties are on the hook for billions of dollars in Medicaid costs with little flexibility in how that money is spent. Several state lawmakers were actually in White Plains yesterday drumming up support for a proposal which would slowly shift Medicaid costs entirely onto the state. New York Medicaid changes will likely remain a top priority for area legislators for the foreseeable future.
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