Medicaid Spending Below Target for Current Year as Health Care Reform Initiatives Improve Quality and Control Costs

ALBANY, N.Y. (Oct. 5, 2011) - Medicaid spending is below target in the current fiscal year and initiatives adopted already have saved the state nearly $600 million, according to information released today by the New York State Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT). The MRT was created in January by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo to conduct a comprehensive examination of New York's Medicaid program.

Seventy-eight recommendations of the MRT were enacted in the state budget in April. These initiatives will cap Medicaid spending growth in state law, begin a three-year phase-in to managed care for all Medicaid recipients, and reduce Medicaid spending by $2.2 billion in the current fiscal year.

Spending for the current year, which is reported on a monthly basis, totaled $6.8 billion -- $173 million or 2.5 percent below the target for August.

"Governor Cuomo's initiative to reform Medicaid represents an unprecedented effort to bring the public into the process of improving health care, controlling health care costs, and reforming health care in New York State," said Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H . "With the hard work and dedication of the legislature, the industry, and the public, New York is becoming a model for the nation in improving health outcomes while controlling growth.

"Although spending remains on target, enrollment growth influenced by the weak economy may impact savings in the current year. We will continue to closely monitor spending and operational trends to ensure that the state remains within the Global Medicaid Cap," Shah said.

The enacted state budget set a Global State Medicaid spending cap for the Department of Health at $15.3 billion for 2011-12 and $15.9 billion for 2012-13. The cap represents Governor Cuomo's goal to limit total Medicaid spending growth to no greater than the rate of inflation for health care (currently 4 percent).

There are currently 10 MRT work groups developing reform proposals and working to address implementation issues in all areas of Medicaid, including managed long-term care implementation, behavioral health reform, program streamlining, payment reforms, health disparities, basic benefit reviews, medical malpractice, and others. All meetings of these work groups are open to the public.

The MRT at the meeting also demonstrated a new tool to track and analyze Medicaid spending in a more sophisticated way to help track spending trends and monitor reform initiatives.