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Public comments for state Medicaid cuts due by Friday

Jim Bowen

State Sen. Rachel May (D-Syracuse) is urging the public to help the state figure out how to find enough Medicaid savings to get it out of a budget deficit. May said the time is now for people who have a stake in the program to weigh in.

"I think everything is on the table at the moment so it would be great to hear from people who think there is waste in the system or it’s not working," May said.

Specifically, a Medicaid Redesign Team is looking for long- and short-term recommendations that can lead to $2.5 billion in savings. It’s the prime reason New York is facing a $6 billion budget deficit.

May, chair of the Senate Committee on Aging, said for example there could be more savings when it comes to nursing home care. She said funneling more funds early on to home health aides could stave off nursing home admissions.

"It would cost $150,000 to have someone in a nursing home and the state picks up half the tab," she said. "For home health care, $5,000-$10,000 can keep the difference of keeping someone in their home and again the state picks up half, but it’s a tenth of the amount or less."

May worries that if the state can’t come up with specific cost savings, it will just cut the program across the board.

"These are people’s lives, and people’s health. You can’t just abandon people. Figuring out if there’s a smart way to do that, I think we need everybody’s input about that," she said.

The Medicaid Redesign Team's final report and recommendation are due at the end of March, and the state’s budget deadline is April 1.

Anyone who wants to take the online survey must do so by Friday, Feb. 21 at 12 p.m.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.