Medicaid Audits Could Help New York's Fiscal Woes, DiNapoli Says
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New York NOW speaks to State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli
New York NOW speaks to State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli
Photo Credit: Brian Flynn

After Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this week that he would convene a panel of experts to identify $2.5 billion in savings in the coming weeks for the state’s Medicaid program, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said he’s already given that work a head start.

DiNapoli, in an interview to air on New York NOW this weekend, suggested that the panel, called the Medicaid Redesign Team, lean on a series of audits performed by his office.

“The first place the Medicaid Redesign Team should look is to our audits, because I think there’s some real opportunities there,” DiNapoli said. "We’re not just talking about a small amount of money.”

DiNapoli said his office has identified about a billion dollars in savings that could have been realized by the state each year for the past three years. That’s no small amount, he said, and it could give the Medicaid Redesign Team a few ideas on how to streamline the program.

“We have found some recurring themes in terms of some of the weaknesses in how Medicaid is handled — people being dual enrolled in fee-for-service and Medicaid Managed Care as well not fully realizing the benefit of rebates we can participate in,” DiNapoli said.

His office plans to provide an analysis of Cuomo’s budget, as it does every year, in the coming weeks. That’ll be after Cuomo reveals what’s known as his 30-day amendments, which is essentially just a revised version of what he proposed this week.

At the same time, the Medicaid Redesign Team will be working to identify $2.5 billion in savings that could be used to help avoid New York’s projected $6.1 billion budget deficit. Cuomo’s planning to slow state spending to cover the rest of that gap.

Cuomo said the panel will create a plan that doesn’t negatively impact local governments and Medicaid beneficiaries, which state lawmakers said was good news. But Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Westchester, said they’ll still want to be involved in the process.

“I love what the mandates are — no impact to local government, no impact to people who are impacted,” Stewart-Cousins said. “The fact that those are the objectives is good, so obviously how we get there is the issue and we certainly want to be involved in that.”

The Medicaid Redesign Team is expected to release its plan for cost savings before Cuomo and the Legislature agree on a state budget in late March.

DiNapoli, speaking to New York NOW, said that, realistically, the panel will have to make its findings known much sooner. That way, Cuomo and the Legislature will be able to use its work to craft a fiscally responsible spending plan.

“Getting it done in time for April 1 — but really hopefully before April 1 because some of what they might recommend may involve legislative action, so you need to have the Legislature as part of that discussion as well,” DiNapoli said.

Republicans have been skeptical of Cuomo’s plan to close the budget gap. Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan, R-Suffolk, said this week that he doesn’t see a path to savings, as proposed by Cuomo, without negative consequences elsewhere.

“It’s not a zero-sum game,” Flanagan said. “There’s going to be someone that’s going to be affected.”

Watch the full interview with Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli on this weekend’s edition of New York NOW on your local PBS station. Click here to find when it airs in your area.

New York NOW

DiNapoli: Medicaid Audits Could Help State's Fiscal Woes

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New York's top fiscal watchdog weighs in on the Governor's budget and Medicaid spending.