Governor Andrew Cuomo declared that New York’s Medicaid shortfall, which the Division of the Budget (DOB) estimates will be $3 billion to $4 billion in fiscal year 2020, “is going to be a major financial issue for the State.”

Now two prominent legislators have weighed in. “If, indeed, a structural imbalance exists, we need to figure that out and work toward balancing this issue,” said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Westchester), who added that she hopes to address the problem “without causing a lot of pain.” Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan) said, “What we expect to be dealing with in the coming fiscal year is on the scale of billions…when you talk about a 5 or 10% cut in the program, you really can’t do that without causing serious damage.”

While State law permits DOB to cut Medicaid rates unilaterally if spending exceeds the Medicaid Global Cap, which limits spending growth to the rate of medical inflation, Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins said DOB should not invoke these “superpowers” without consulting the Legislature. She also said it might be time to change the cap: “I think there’s a lot of things that are worth revisiting.” DOB will likely delay another payment to avoid piercing the cap.

The midyear budget report, which was due for release on October 31, could provide more details. A DOB spokesman this week said that the Cuomo Administration was “developing a plan that will fix the structural imbalance while also continuing high-quality care for more than six million New Yorkers.”

The GNYHA-1199SEIU Healthcare Education Project produced the attached talking points detailing the need to protect the Medicaid program, the people who depend on it, and New York’s vital safety net hospitals.