Matt Smith

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Medicaid spending on the elderly rose five times faster in New York than in other states during the most recent five-year period for which data are available, according to a report issued by the Empire Center.

Between 1999 and 2004, New York’s Medicaid spending on the elderly rose 55 percent, while the rate of increase in other states was just 9 percent, the report says. At the end of the period, New York’s spending of $27,200 per elderly recipient was 142 percent more than the average for other states.

Tarren Bragdon, author of the report and health policy analyst for the Empire Center, said the recent data on elderly Medicaid spending need to be taken into account during the forthcoming state budget debate.

“Governor Spitzer has spoken repeatedly about the need to shift spending away from expensive institutional care to community and home-based alternatives so seniors receive the care they need at a price they can afford,” Bragdon said. “But the real challenge for both the governor and state lawmakers as they negotiate the 2007-2008 budget is to provide seniors with the appropriate care at a price all New York taxpayers can afford.”

The report, which opens a multi-part Medicaid In Depth series, shows that the elderly make up just 7.5 percent of all New Yorkers on Medicaid but drive 25 percent of the state’s Medicaid budget. The Empire State spends an average $20,750 per elderly Medicaid recipient on inpatient, nursing home, home-health and personal care. Other states, meanwhile, spend an average $6,860 per elderly Medicaid recipient for the same services. The Empire Center study shows that if New York had the same average spending on the elderly as other states, its Medicaid costs would be almost $4.9 billion less.

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