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State says Medicaid waiver will "transform" New York's health care

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s aides announced Monday they are asking the federal government for a Medicaid waiver that they say will help make the state a “national model” for health care.

New York State Commissioner of Health Dr. Nirav Shah says the waiver asks the federal government to let New York keep $10 billion of $17 billion in expected Medicaid savings over the next few years to invest in primary care, and even housing for some of the state’s sickest and costliest Medicaid recipients.

“This will substantially reduce the number of unneeded, expensive emergency room visits that currently occur today thorough out  the system, ” Shah said.  

The money would also be used to help struggling public nursing homes and increase mental health care.

The plan is supported by the state’s major hospital and health care workers groups.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.