Governor’s task force will work to improve Medicaid


By Tom Duane

On Jan. 5, 2011, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order creating the Medicaid Redesign Team. New York’s Medicaid program provides health insurance coverage to almost one in four New Yorkers, and costs more than $52 billion per year. The Medicaid Redesign Team is charged with conducting a comprehensive review of the state’s Medicaid program; making recommendations to the governor by March 1, 2011, on potential Medicaid spending reductions in the state’s Fiscal Year 2011-’12 budget; and issuing a final report at the end of Fiscal Year 2011-’12 on additional short-term reforms and systemic changes to improve quality of care at lower cost.

While this will be incredibly difficult work, I was pleased to be named one of the team’s 27 members, along with state Assemblymember Dick Gottfried and two Republican legislators, relevant experts from various state agencies and healthcare and insurance industry stakeholders, as well as one representative of Medicaid consumers. I would have hoped for more consumer representation; as always, I will speak out to ensure that the concerns of New York’s least powerful constituencies — which certainly include Medicaid consumers — are addressed.

Key areas on which I plan to focus include:

• Continuing the reform of Medicaid payment mechanisms to better reimburse primary and preventive care services, thus encouraging better management of health problems and reducing the chance they will develop into catastrophic illnesses.

• Reducing health disparities among New York State’s poor and minority populations by improving quality and performance of healthcare providers.

• Expanding and strengthening “Medical Homes” to improve coordination among health professionals involved in a patient’s care to achieve better health outcomes.

• Maximizing federal funding provided by the new healthcare law (the Affordable Care Act of 2010) to support innovative ways to care for persons suffering with multiple illnesses, including those with behavioral health problems, in addition to chronic physical health problems.

If you would like more information about the Governor’s Medicaid Redesign Team or would like to share your suggestions, please visit https://governor.ny.gov/medicaidredesign. Of course, you may also contact my office directly at 212-633-8052.

Duane represents the 29th state Senate District. Until the end of last year, he was chairperson of the state Senate Health Committee. With the Senate Republicans back in power, Duane is now the committee’s ranking Democrat.