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March 28, 2005

Medicaid spending on elderly is billions higher in New York, but care may not be better, report shows

New York State's Medicaid spending on long-term care for older residents is well over twice the national average, and far higher than the level in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and other states, a Public Policy Institute report shows.

"Defenders of the status quo in New York's costly Medicaid program like to argue that if we spend less, we'll end up leaving our elderly loved ones out on the street," the Institute's latest Medicaid Watch '05 report says. "If that's true, why doesn't every other state have such a crisis?"

The report shows that, for every resident aged 65 or over, New York's Medicaid spends an average $5,500 on long-term care including nursing homes, personal care and home care. The national average is $2,233.

"If New York's spending on nursing homes, home care and personal care reflected national trends, taxpayers would save more than $8 billion," the Institute said.

Home and personal care are intended partly to help seniors stay out of nursing homes. New York spent $3.2 billion on those programs in 2003, with 84 percent of the total going to New York City.

Yet, despite those programs, older individuals in New York State are more likely than others to move into a nursing home.

And despite billions in extra spending, New York's nursing homes do not perform significantly better than the national average on most federal quality-of-care measures.

The Public Policy Institute is publishing Medicaid Watch ’05 to document the case for reforms that reduce overall costs imposed on New York’s taxpayers, businesses, farmers, and county governments. All reports in the series are at www.ppinys.org.

These reports were researched and written by Robert Ward, the Institute’s director of research. To interview him about Medicaid spending, telephone 518/465-7511, ext. 271.