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Cuomo Weighs Options to Cap N.Y. Medicaid Cost at $15.1 Billion

Feb. 25 (Bloomberg) -- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Medicaid task force recommended 79 ways to redesign and restructure the state’s health-care services program for the poor to cap its cost at $15.1 billion.

The so-called Medicaid Redesign Team’s proposals meet his budget target through a variety of changes, the governor said yesterday in a statement. He said the recommendations won’t jeopardize patient care.

“This approach was not about making cuts but redesigning a program whose costs are unsustainable,” said Cuomo, 53, a Democrat elected in November. The state’s spending per Medicaid recipient is the second highest in the U.S., the governor said.

Cuomo set up the Medicaid team to avoid political fights over how to change the present system, according to his statement. The group held public meetings around the state starting in January to solicit ideas, receiving more than 4,000 from New York residents. The governor is grappling with a $10 billion deficit for the fiscal year that begins April 1.

A 2 percent rate cut would reduce Medicaid costs by $345 million, while proposed changes in program and payment structure would cut expenses by $1.14 billion, according to a summary of the recommendations. Another would put almost all Medicaid recipients into managed-care programs within three years.

Cuomo has proposed cutting local school aid by 7.3 percent and reducing Medicaid spending by $3 billion to help balance the fiscal 2012 budget. As many as 9,800 state jobs may be lost under the governor’s $132.9 billion spending plan, according to documents he released Feb. 1.

He called the nation’s third most-populous state “functionally bankrupt” and said his budget proposal “stops the cycle of relentless and unaffordable spending growth.”

New York spends more than twice the national average on Medicaid on a per-capita basis, Cuomo said in the statement. The health-insurance system is jointly funded by states and the U.S. government.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Palmeri in Los Angeles at cpalmeri1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net

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