Gov. Cuomo’s plan to curtail Medicaid spending could impact Nassau, Suffolk counties

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While many people agree that Medicaid spending is out of control in New York, there is a disagreement over whether Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed fix is fair.

Medicaid costs are responsible for a big chunk of the state's $6 billion deficit. Gov. Cuomo says it might be time to have counties share the burden of that cost, unless they can keep spending under control.

Currently, the state pays for Medicaid. But Cuomo's proposing that counties pay any increase in Medicaid spending that's above a 3% rise from the year before. As an incentive, he also said counties would get a refund if they keep increases below 3%.

MORE: Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveils state budget amid $6B deficit 

The proposal has triggered some confusion. Blair Horner, of the New York Public Interest Research Group, says he doesn’t know how it’s going to work.

“Some counties have economic problems, and if we go into a recession, what happens to those counties?” he asks.

Assemblyman Mike Montesano (R-Hicksville) says it's not fair to have counties pick up Medicaid costs. But he agrees that something must be done to curtail Medicaid spending.

“It's totally out of control. We spend more than California and Texas combined and they have double our population,” he told News 12.

Assemblyman Chuck Lavine (D-Glen Cove) says while the proposal could have a huge financial impact on counties, he says lawmakers can make changes over the next two months as part of the budget debate.

“These matters are all subject to negotiations and the negotiations can be very tense as times, as brutal as things can get in politics. However, the end result has been fairly positive in recent years,” he says.

The governor has put together a panel whose job it is to identify $2 billion in Medicaid savings through such things as fraud, waste and administrative costs. The hope is that any savings would help avoid counties having to contribute to the costs.




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