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Upping NY Medicaid Rolls "Will Increase Savings."

February 8, 2007

Governor Spitzer's new budget goal of getting more New Yorkers, especially children, onto Medicaid rolls should save the state dollars in the long run. That's the analysis of the Fiscal Policy Institute, an economic think tank, in its newly-released 17th Annual Budget briefing.

The group's Senior Economist Trudi Renwick says this is a big change from the "Pataki years," when healthcare providers had to try to prove why poor kids needed dental care. Renwick sees Spitzer's proposal as a way to provide better care to citizens, but also a smart financial move for New York.

"Getting people in and focusing on preventive care, and having them get their care from a primary physician rather than in the emergency room, will save the system money."

Renwick says the only fault she finds with Spitzer's approach is the across-the-board cuts he makes to hospitals and nursing homes. Instead, she suggests revising the Medicaid reimbursement plan to allow the state to emphasize primary and preventive care.

Right now, there are an estimated 100,000 children without health insurance, just on Long Island. For the most part, they are kids of working parents who currently are ineligible -- but just barely -- for Medicaid. Jack O'Connell, director of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island predicts the Governor's budget proposal would cut that number by more than half.

"What the Governor is proposing is expanding the eligibility. In other words, you could make more money and still be eligible. This proposal probably will cover another 50,000 to 60,000 kids with state health insurance."

O'Connell agrees with Renwick's assessment that the budget should do more for hospitals and nursing homes, but he says Spitzer is right to change the system so it better addresses patients' needs.

Learn more about the budget briefing at or attend the Fiscal Policy Institute briefings, scheduled today at the Community Service Society, 105 West 22nd St. in Manhattan from 2:30 to 4:30 PM; or Friday at the Vitra Building, 395 North Service Road in Mellville, from 8:00 to 10:00 AM.

Michael Clifford/Jamie Folsom, Public News Service - NY