News about the New York Medicaid system has been surprisingly positive over the past few weeks. While stories of doom and gloom dominate federal discussions of the program, in our state there has actually been cause for optimism. Most prominently, Governor Cuomo recently announced that while the program is still quite expensive, the cost increases last year stayed below the self-imposed caps set to curb spending growth. This financial goal was attained even though the program added nearly 104,000 participants–essentially reaching a total of 5 million New Yorkers in the program.
These money-saving goals were met thanks in part to the work of the state’s Medicaid Task Force which was charged with finding ways to trim program expenses. Observers note that one important way this was achieved was by reducing expensive hospital admission rates and increasing usage of primary care. Our New York Medicaid attorneys appreciate that the state’s ability to meet this goals is good news for area seniors who rely on the program for their long-term care needs.
However, this one year cost curbing effort, while positive, does not mean that the all concerns about the program have been resolved. There are still many issues left to face to ensure local seniors who need it have access to this program. For one thing, the program’s expenses are still hitting local governments particularly hard. The Times Herald-Record discussed this issue in a story published this morning. County executives from Orange, Ulster, and Dutchess counties met yesterday to talk about a range of issues–Medicaid was by far the most pressing concern.
Ulster County executive Mike Hein explained how he believed that the funding systems of the program were a clear example “of the state dumping an expense on localities.” What is particularly frustrating to these executives is the fact that while local government pay essentially half of the state Medicaid costs, localities have no control over the program. Our New York Medicaid lawyers realize that these very concerns are what have prompted some in Albany to try to shift the costs of the program away from localities entirely. However, these county executives were skeptical that those proposals would reach fruition. Orange County executive Ed Diana noted that he thought it unlikely such a large decision would be made during an election year.
When discussing these Medicaid issues, the executives from Orange and Ulster counties also defended their decision to privatize local nursing homes. Dutchess County had privatized several years earlier. Some have voiced concerns over the decision, because private homes have repeatedly been found to provide lower quality care than publicly run homes. However, the executives claimed that financial concerns forced the decision.
See Our Related Blog Posts: