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Zack Hutchins
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April 2, 2004

Regional business groups join campaign for cost-cutting Medicaid reforms

Several regional business associations in western New York have launched campaigns to encourage state lawmakers to enact reforms that would reduce the burden of Medicaid costs in New York State.

The Rochester Business Alliance (RBA), the Buffalo-Niagara Partnership (BNP), and the Metropolitan Development Authority (MDA) of Syracuse have met recently with county officials in Monroe, Erie, and Onondaga counties. Those three organizations are founding members of a group called Advance Upstate New York, which has identified Medicaid reform as its top legislative issue for 2004.

Specific reforms being promoted by these advocates include a cap on Medicaid expenses, expanded use of Medicaid care, and a limit on reimbursements for "personalized care," which includes such activities as shopping and cleaning, to 15 hours per week.

As part of their advocacy for Medicaid reform, western New York business leaders have been active in publishing opinion columns advancing the case for Medicaid reform.

The western New York business groups join The Council in this effort, which has long been the state's most prominent business voice in advocating Medicaid reform. For example, 2002 research by The Public Policy Institute, The Council's research affiliate, has showed that New York's per capita Medicaid spending is by far the nation's highest and about 155 percent above the national average.

Institute research has also shown that:

The Business Council is advocating a range of reforms, all of which emphasize that the root of New York's Medicaid problem is its far-above-average level of spending. The Council supports a state take-over of the local share of Medicaid, provided it comes with an ironclad requirement that county saves be returned to county taxpayers.

The Council also believes Medicaid care can be improved and costs reduced by an increased emphasis on managed care, especially in cases involving chronic illness, and a more sophisticated use of information and information technology to improve caregivers' decision-making.