New York and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have reached an agreement in principle for an $8 million Medicaid waiver, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday evening. That means the state will have federal permission to reinvest money it has saved following a revamping of the health-care program for the poor and disabled in 2011.
Medicaid waivers are granted to give states flexibility to test new or existing ways to pay for Medicaid services, and New York sought one for $10 billion. The state applied for the waiver in August 2012, asking for an expedited review of its request. The state asked to reinvest up to $10 billion of the $17.1 billion the state saved through its Medicaid reforms. New York proposes to spend the money over five years.
State officials recently complained that it was taking the federal government an extraordinary amount of time to make a decision on the application.
New York has the largest Medicaid program in the country, with state and federal spending totaling $54 billion a year. The state will use the money to “transform the state’s health care system and preserve vital health services in Brooklyn and other parts of the state, including struggling hospitals,” according to a statement from the governor. Several Brooklyn hospitals have been in danger of closing because of financial problems.
“While the State will be reviewing the terms and conditions of this agreement, it is clearly the biggest step forward towards a positive conclusion for our communities, particularly in Brooklyn, that have suffered from diminishing health care services,” Cuomo said. “Securing this waiver will address those needs, allowing us to increase access and improve the quality of care for New Yorkers while making New York’s health care system a model for the entire nation.”
Transforming the state’s health care delivery system is essential for struggling communities in New York, especially Brooklyn, and the waiver will help, Kenneth E. Raske, president of the Greater New York Hospital Association.
“New York State’s health care delivery system received an enormous shot in the arm today with Secretary Sebelius’ conditional approval of an $8 billion Medicaid waiver,” he said in a statement, referring to Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. secretary of health and human services.