For years the New York Medicaid attorneys at our firm have helped local families navigate the Medicaid program’s complexities. We guide families as they sort through the application process, protect property through use of New York Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts, and engage in similar planning strategies. Millions of families throughout our state depend on the program to receive the care that they need to get by each day. However, the popularity of the service has also threatened its long-term stability. That is why many observers have been closely watching lawmakers as they propose various programmatic changes that may affect individuals currently using the program as well as those who will likely apply in the future.
Yet, for all the “doom and gloom” discussion that seems to perpetuate, the state has actually received praise for its ability to save money without drastically altering the services available to residents. The Ithaca Journal commented this week on a Kaiser Family Foundation report which found that the New York Medicaid system was outperforming other states in efforts to keep spending in check. The report found that nationwide Medicaid spending increased 28.4 percent this year. New York, however, actually spent slightly less money on these services. The state has been able to avoid the significant increase in spending, say some experts, because of their increased use of managed care. In addition, New York eliminated a separate prescription drug plan for Medicaid receipts; the plan was folded into the managed care service. Other states may follow our lead. The article explains that the state’s “redesigning the program appears to be the leading edge of a national trend.”
Not only has the redesign saved state money, it may also have improved the actual services provided to residents. For example, the state’s spokesman for the Division of the Budget claims that the restructuring has led to a major expansion in patient-centered medical homes and better care management for those with complex medical needs. The state has also added substance abuse screening procedures, expanded smoking cessation counseling services, and now requires hospitals to provide patient-centered palliative care.
The program expansion coupled with spending cuts is even more impressive considering that program participation has swelled. Since the onset of the recession in late 2007, Medicaid participants have risen by a million, now totaling nearly five million. This increase was expected as economic troubles nationwide typically lead to an increased reliance on Medicaid services.
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