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December 8, 2003

State Comptroller: State must cut Medicaid spending, not raise taxes, to cope with budget deficit

As state lawmakers grapple with a pending budget gap of $5 billion or more next year, they should trim Medicaid spending and reject both tax increases and new borrowing, the state's chief financial officer has told the New York Post.

"I think that there are a number of [Medicaid] services provided that are wonderful to have when you have money," State Comptroller Alan Hevesi told the New York Post Dec. 5.

"But when you don't have money, you have to freeze and cut back . . . and you have to then triage," he added. "Those [programs] that save lives have to remain and be financed, and those that help but are not dealing with lifesaving issues may have to be rolled back."

Hevesi made his remarks after testifying at a state Senate hearing.

The Business Council has long argued that New York State must cut its Medicaid spending.

New York's Medicaid spending is about two and a half times the national average on a per capita basis, The Council's research affiliate, The Public Policy Institute, has shown. Last year alone, New York spent more on Medicaid than 40 other states spent in their entire budgets, The Institute's research shows.

Both Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver have said this fall that they do not see a need for tax increases next year.