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Financial Responsibility To Medicaid Program Should Be A Priority

It’s nice that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is advancing State of the State proposals in advance of his Jan. 8 vision-setting speech.

So far, the governor has said he wants to prevent those who commit a serious crime in another state from owning a gun in New York; ban fentanyl look-alikes and expand access to medication-assisted treatment statewide; mandate automatic manual recounts in close elections; close the rape intoxication loophole; ban single-used styrofoam containers; lower prescription drug prices; advance net neutrality protection; and regulate debt collection companies. Some of these proposals make sense. Some should become law, depending on the way the legislation is written. In the end, though, they’re do little other than to distract the public and lawmakers from the elephant in the room — the state budget.

Shouldn’t one of the governor’s State of the State proposals perhaps mention balancing the state budget, in particular the state’s bloated Medicaid program? The program is roughly $4 billion over budget, contributing to a roughly $6 billion state budget deficit as the state enters the 2020 legislative session. Closing the Medicaid spending gap is difficult given that any spending cuts are going to raise howls from the people who use the affected programs, but it must be done.

The governor can talk all he wants about gun ownership, manual recounts or styrofoam containers, but perhaps the most important policy Cuomo can implement this year is restoring financial responsibility to the Medicaid program. It should be the first priority in the State of the State, not relegated to 10th place behind frivolous proposals.

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