State Sen. Borrello introduces Medicaid Bill in state Senate

State Sen. George Borrello has introduced legislation in the state Senate that would give counties a modicum of cost control over their Medicaid programs.

S.8798 would allow counties to opt out of the county cost of medical assistance payments for any new Medicaid program enrollees or those who are re-enrolling after a period of absence.

“New York state’s combined Medicaid spending is among the highest in the nation, more than Texas and Florida combined. This legislation could lower local Medicaid costs by allowing county governments to choose which optional services to provide to new enrollees,” Borrello wrote in his legislative justification.

Similar bills have been introduced several times in the state Assembly over the years and never made it out of the Assembly’s Health Committee. A companion bill to Borrello’s bill, A.2806, is sponsored by Assemblyman Brian Kolb, R-Geneva, and is co-sponsored by several Republicans in the Assembly including Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, and Joe Giglio, R-Gowanda.

New York’s Medicaid program is growing at its fastest rate in six years, with a quarter-million additional enrollees landing in the safety-net health plan during the first three months of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Empire Center for New York State Policy. Enrollment for May rose to 6,321,246, the highest monthly total recorded on the state Health Department’s main website or through its data portal. The May rolls were up 261,000 or 4.3 percent since February — the fastest rise since early 2014, when the Affordable Care Act took full effect.

If the surge continues, it could further deepen the deficit faced by the state government, which has lost billions in revenue.

“Although Albany officials expected enrollment would spike – and knew that revenues were plunging – the budget approved in early April did not attempt to adjust for either trend. Instead, lawmakers postponed making final decisions in anticipation of further aid from the federal government, and gave Governor Cuomo special authority to borrow and cut spending if necessary,” the Empire Center’s Bill Hammond wrote in a blog post on Wednesday.


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