ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo plans to shore up a growing $4 billion bill in Medicaid payments by moving $2.2 billion of it into future years and by spending cuts in his 2020-21 budget proposal in January, according to a fiscal report released Friday.
In October, Cuomo's budget office projected that more than $1 billion in Medicaid costs would have to be transferred to the 2020-21 fiscal year to deal with a total Medicaid gap of more than $3 billion. Friday's report shows the amount to carried over into future years is now $2.2 billion, The report also shows that the total Medicaid payment due is now $4 billion over a state-imposed cap designed to rein in spending, according to the report.
Since October, costs have increased as more families have been covered by the health care plan and care for elderly New Yorkers has increased, while health care costs overall continue to rise faster than inflation, the report said.
“The Division of the Budget and the Department of Health are once again developing a cost-curbing plan that will be described in the Executive Budget to be introduced in January and continue high-quality care for more than 6 million New Yorkers," said Freeman Klopett, Cuomo budget spokesman.
In March, Cuomo and the State Legislature agreed to delay the monthly Medicaid payment to health care providers by three days until after April 1, which was the beginning of the current 2019-20 fiscal year. That allowed Cuomo and lawmakers to close out the 2018-19 fiscal year by adhering to a “Medicaid global cap."
That delay, however, forced the state to confront 13 monthly payments this fiscal year instead of 12. Instead of paying that 13th monthly payment, Cuomo is planning to permanently change the payment schedule to keep pushing the amount of that extra payment to subsequent years, according to the fiscal report.
Friday’s report also stated that the cost of Medicaid was driving up a projected overall deficit to $6.1 billion in 2020-21 budget, $7.5 billion in the 2021-22 budget, and $8.5 billion in the 2022-23 budget. The current total budget is $175.5 billion.
The Cuomo administration said it would release a cost-cutting plan in January and planned to meet its goal of increasing annual spending by no more than 2%.
Independent analysts said they were concerned by the fiscal report.
“It’s one part fiscal gimmick and one part delay, because they are just going to delay when they say what the actual plan is,” said David Friedfel, director of state studies for the independent Citizens Budget Commission. “It will mean the cuts will have to be that much harsher.”