Capitol Watch: Governor Cuomo adds Medicaid on agenda for budget funding


ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York lawmakers are heading into a week of hearings on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal, and one of the big issues on the table is how to slash Medicaid costs without hurting patients or financially crippling counties that help pay for the program.

A new Medicaid Redesign Team, tasked with coming up with $2.5 billion in savings, is set to hold its first meeting Tuesday.

The 21-member panel is made up of lawmakers, health care industry leaders and state officials. Cuomo has said he wants cost-cutting proposals from the group by March.

The fast-approaching deadline has lawmakers and lobbyists worried. They think a rushed deal could fail to address complex structural issues in one of the nation’s largest Medicaid programs or result in across-the-board cuts it the panel fails to find savings.

Leaders of New York’s counties are also concerned about a plan by the governor to put them on the hook for trying to reign in costs of the program.

New York is one of few states that requires counties to pay for part of the program, and Cuomo’s proposal would penalize those that don’t find a way to keep annual spending increases under 3%.

That plan has produced howls of objections from New York City, where officials have predicted that making the city cover any cost increases over 3% could saddle taxpayers with an additional $1.1 billion per year.

There’s a legislative hearing on the topic Monday.



The rollout of New York’s new bail reform law has led to an outpouring of complaints from law enforcement officials, who say it has endangered public safety by turning habitual criminals loose on the streets.

Criminal justice reformers have pushed back, saying opponents of the law, which eliminated cash bail for nonviolent offenses, are exaggerating the problems and unfairly seizing on a relatively small number of instances where things have gone wrong.

Both sides are expected to spar at a Wednesday hearing on the budget for the state’s public safety agencies.

Law enforcement officials are also expected to weigh in on the governor’s proposals to downsize the prison system and help communities and police address hate crimes.

New York spends over $7 billion on public safety agencies.



Cuomo has proposed a roughly 3% boost in aid to local school systems by increasing funding from $27.7 billion to $28.5 billion for the 2020-21 school year.

But several teachers’ unions and other education advocacy groups are expected to push for an even bigger increase at a hearing Tuesday.

The state has also been holding hearings into whether to tweak a formula that determines a school district’s state funding. Some groups, including the non-partisan Citizens Budget Commission, say the formula gives too much funding to wealthy communities.

New York has 3 million students enrolled in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

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