NY legislator calls for significant Medicaid changes

A New York county executive is proposing that county leaders be allowed to determine their respective Medicaid programs, according to an article in the Buffalo News.

New York offers the most wide-ranging and expensive Medicaid programs in the U.S., according to the News. Among the state's Medicaid offerings are dentures, dental care, physical therapy, speech therapy, eyeglasses, and private-duty nursing.

But County Executive Chris Collins said January 11 that he would drop dental and vision care, among other things, if county leaders were allowed to decide which Medicaid services they would provide.

For years, state leaders expected counties to cover roughly 25% of many costs, though in recent years each county's annual cost increase was capped at about 3%, according to the story. New York counties currently contribute $7.3 billion to the state Medicaid program. In 2010, Erie County spent $201 million on Medicaid, or 96% of the property taxes that it raised for county operations, the News reported.

"These numbers are staggering, and provide a clear example of why Erie County, and all of New York state, cannot continue on this course," Collins said at a news conference. "These optional services are why New York is well-known for having an infamous 'Cadillac' Medicaid program. In this era of tough fiscal times, taxpayers are demanding a Chevy, not a Cadillac."

He estimated that in Erie County alone, taxpayers could see an overall decline of $80 million, or about 40% of their county property tax bill, if the county could drop many of its Medicaid options.

Copyright © 2011 DrBicuspid.com

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