House Republicans fought back Tuesday against Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s demand for a federal Medicaid waiver that could be worth $10 billion to New York, saying the state shouldn’t get any money until it clears up back payments.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and other Republicans sent a letter to the federal Health and Human Services Department saying that New York’s Medicaid program “has fostered a system that over the past two decades has wasted vast sums of our nation’s limited resources.” The Republicans said no decision should be made on New York’s waiver request until the federal government recovers an “appropriate amount” of aid the state “improperly received” over the last two decades. For instance, Issa said New York received $15 billion in overpayments for state-run developmental centers from 1991 to 2011.
“This waiver request will potentially cost taxpayers an additional $10 billion. We urge you to ensure taxpayers are justly compensated for decades of Medicaid overpayments received by New York State prior to the approval of this pending waiver,” wrote Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
New York is seeking the waiver as a benefit from its efforts to cut costs in the state’s Medicaid program, which have saved the state and federal government billions of dollars on health care for the poor. Cuomo has said New York has had to wait longer than other states for the waiver.
Cuomo said last month that the $10 billion Medicaid waiver was essential to keep some Brooklyn hospitals operating that may otherwise close at the end of February.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on Jan. 29 that the Obama administration is expected to have a decision on New York’s pending Medicaid waiver worth $10 billion within 30 days.
UPDATE: Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi sent this statement in response to Issa's letter:
“This is nothing more than another in a series of Chairman Issa’s transparently partisan attacks under the guise of official government action. The facts are that Governor Cuomo’s Medicaid Redesign is successfully saving the federal government $17 billion over five years and we are asking to reinvest $10 billion of that in order to achieve even greater savings.”