The remarkable thing about state's multi-billion-dollar Medicaid crisis is that it is almost entirely the result of the Cuomo administration's own actions. There is no economic downturn or change in federal policy that explains the program's current $4 billion deficit, or its $3 billion projected gap in the next fiscal year, as confirmed in Friday's mid-year update to the state financial plan.
Elizabeth Warren is an unabashed believer in wealth redistribution, so it was predictable that her Medicare for All plan would hit high-income individuals and large corporations with trillions in tax hikes. More surprising are the two other targets she chooses to soak: states that spend most heavily on Medicaid, and employers that offer the costliest health benefits.
The 1199 SEIU contract that the Cuomo administration subsidized with Medicaid money last year included a potentially nine-figure payment to the union's lobbying arm, which has spent millions on TV ads praising Governor Cuomo's health policies.
At the midway point of the fiscal year, New York's Medicaid health plan has already spent 61 percent of its state-funded budget, according to the latest cash report from the comptroller's office – putting the program on track to end the year with a $2.9 billion shortfall.
When it comes to New York’s latest Medicaid mess, the buck stops with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“It’s everything that’s wrong with Albany in one ugly deal,” Bill Hammond, a health policy expert at the fiscally conservative Empire Center, told The Times.
The budget crisis in New York’s Medicaid program stems from the failure of a key cost-control measure adopted during Governor Cuomo’s first term. In 2011, Cuomo and the Legislature imposed a “global cap” on state Medicaid spending that was tied to the medical inflation rate. The measure showed signs of working at first, but lost its effectiveness as circumstances changed, loopholes multiplied and compliance faltered.
Federal officials are reviewing the state's expropriation of $2 billion from the sale of Fidelis Care health plan, potentially throwing a wrench into the Cuomo administration's plans for using the money.