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Advocates for People with Disabilities Urge Repeal of Medicaid Cap

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Cuts to Medicaid in New York have targeted services that allow people with disabilities to remain in their homes. (karelnoppe/Adobe Stock)
Cuts to Medicaid in New York have targeted services that allow people with disabilities to remain in their homes. (karelnoppe/Adobe Stock)
 By Andrea Sears - Producer, Contact
March 19, 2021

NEW YORK - Advocates for people with disabilities say the cap New York put on Medicaid spending in 2011 doesn't keep pace with growing health-care needs and they're urging lawmakers to finally repeal it.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 2021 to 2022 budget proposal calls for extending the Medicaid cap for two more years.

But according to Heidi Siegfried - director of health policy at the Center for Independence of the Disabled New York - the cap is arbitrary, unrelated to growth in Medicaid enrollment, and unresponsive to medical needs.

"It's really affected people with disabilities," said Siegfried, "who rely on long-term home care in particular to stay out of nursing facilities and to get the services they need to remain in their home."

She said lawmakers in both the state Assembly and Senate have introduced legislation to repeal the Global Medicaid Cap.

With the pandemic, Medicaid enrollment in New York has increased by more than 700,000 in the past year. And Siegfried noted that last year Cuomo wanted to limit eligibility for home care under the program.

"Even before the increase in enrollment," said Siegfried, "we saw that the services that we rely upon are the services that are really being targeted for cuts. And it was driven by the Medicaid global spending cap."

The cap also allows the state's Division of the Budget to unilaterally cut the Medicaid budget in mid-year without legislative oversight to keep spending under the cap.

Siegfried pointed out that the federal government generally picks up about half of Medicaid costs in the state, and during the pandemic that has been increased.

"And in the most recent relief bill that was signed by President Biden," said Siegfried, "they put an additional increase for Medicaid if the state would spend it to improve home and community-based services."

She added that, with few exceptions, home care is less expensive than forcing people into long-term care facilities.

Disclosure: Center for Independence of the Disabled New York contributes to our fund for reporting on Disabilities. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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