The Cuomo administration has admitted there is a “structural imbalance” in its massive Medicaid budget, which means the Empire State’s biggest single government program is spending beyond its means.
So, what does Gov. Andrew Cuomo plan to do about it? Some hint of the answer might be forthcoming in a midyear financial update — whenever, that is, Cuomo gets around to issuing one as required by law.
That report is now two weeks overdue.
Meanwhile, the Medicaid cost overrun points to a broader budget problem: With the economy and tax receipts still growing in line with projections, for the first time in nearly three decades, New York has an operating deficit not caused by an economic downturn.
The problem started to simmer (with little notice) at least a year ago, when Medicaid expenditures began to consistently run ahead of budget projections. It boiled over in the spring, when the governor balanced his budget by rolling over more than $1.7 billion in Medicaid payments from late March to early April — a maneuver not revealed until after the current budget had been passed by the Legislature in Albany.
In a disclosure document slipped out last month, the governor’s Budget Division asserted that the state might realize “savings” of up to $2 billion on Medicaid this year, while still “leaving an imbalance in the range of $1.5 billion.”
In other words, Cuomo might just kick the can farther down the road.
E.J. McMahon is research director at the Empire Center for Public Policy and an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
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