UFT position on Medicaid redesign

The UFT submitted the following position as part of the public comment period of the Medicaid Redesign Team II. The team is a group of health care providers and stakeholders tasked with finding ways to contain Medicaid spending growth. The team will submit its report with findings and recommendations to the governor and the state Legislature in March for consideration in the upcoming state budget.

New York City cannot absorb $1.1 billion in new Medicaid costs as part of the state’s efforts to shift its own financial responsibilities onto local communities.

As president of the United Federation of Teachers, one of my responsibilities is to protect New York City schoolchildren and educators from this kind of debilitating policy decision.

New York State, rightly, gets credit for expanding health coverage to nearly all its residents. The administration delivered on this progressive priority by taking responsibility for the program administration and by crafting safeguards to shield local municipalities from much of the expense. Now, when the state-run Medicaid system needs adjustment, the administration seeks to first blame local municipalities for cost increases they had no control over and then to hold local communities responsible for absorbing costs the state had previously pledged to cover.

New York City’s public school students, residents and taxpayers cannot shoulder this additional cost.

Any cost savings the Medicaid Redesign Team II identifies must not be at the expense of patients and taxpayers. There are ways to make health care programs more effective and efficient that are not built on reducing services to the most vulnerable New York City residents

The truth is that New York State cannot cut its way out of what the administration calls a $6.1 billion budget deficit. New York State needs additional sources of revenue. That is why the UFT and a cross-section of unions (including District Council 37, NYSUT, CWA and RWDSU) and community organizations are advocating a fair-share revenue package. The fair-share solution includes a modest tax increase on multi-millionaires, a wealth tax on the state’s 112 billionaires and a tightening of tax loopholes that benefit Wall Street but hurt Main Streets from Brooklyn to Buffalo.

This additional revenue is a realistic approach to address our current financial situation while preserving New York’s standing as the progressive leader in healthcare, education and community empowerment.

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