Medicaid Matters New York, which represents Medicaid recipients, issued a statement this evening explaining why its member on the Medicaid Redesign Team — Lara Kassel, coordinator of Medicaid Matters — abstained from yesterday’s vote. The panel decided to vote early on a package of proposals to reform the $52.8 billion health-care program for the poor and disabled. Four members of the panel abstained. The panel was supposed to meet today and vote on the package Tuesday. The plan was submitted to Gov. Andrew Cuomo yesterday, and it will be considered by the Legislature during its budget deliberations next month.
This is the statement:
“To the shock and dismay of countless community advocates and a few members of the Team itself, the Medicaid Redesign Team delivered a proposal to the Governor yesterday to fulfill his request to help balance the state budget by making significant cuts to the Medicaid program. Despite the fact that a plan was in place for review of a package, including time to delve into the details, become familiar with the impact, probe the authors for details, and have discussions within the advocacy community about how to respond, a vote was taken to approve the package. Some Team members were involved in the plan to take an early vote and many did not know until sometime during the course of the meeting yesterday that this was the action that would be taken.
“The choice to abstain was not a difficult one to make. Lack of sufficient understanding of what is included in the package, failure to provide the opportunity for further discussion, and abandonment of the idea that the package could be amended to reflect Team comments and concerns before a final vote were all factors that contributed to the decision.
“The Team process is intended to continue, to inform the implementation of the package approved yesterday and to engage in the second phase of discussions aimed at longer range reforms. MMNY and our coalition members will provide our opinions on various proposals, some of which we support and some of which we will be determined to see taken off the table. The misgivings of the process to this point must be recognized and they must inform the activities of the coming weeks and months to ensure meaningful Team engagement, participation and input. It is the only way we can hope for a successful outcome.
“Medicaid was created as a program to benefit low-income, vulnerable communities and that needs to remain as the focus of the Team’s deliberations.”