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How Not to Fix Medicaid

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Faced with an undeniable need to rein in Medicaid costs, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently appointed a “Medicaid Redesign Team” and has incorporated its recommendations into his proposed state budget.

The MRT’s task was to find inefficiencies in the current system so that costs can be reduced without impacting the quality of care for indigent New Yorkers. But one of the MRT’s recommendations misses that mark, with potentially disastrous consequences for people with severe mental illness.

The MRT has called for health plan administrators – rather than a patient’s own doctors – to have final approval of the drugs that a Medicaid patient receives. This is a particularly terrible idea in the realm of psychotropic meds, where effectiveness and side effects can vary wildly from one patient with severe mental illness to the next. Getting the meds right for each patient requires individualized care, which can only be provided by a treating physician.

We encourage New Yorkers to call their legislators and urge them to reject the Governor’s misguided proposal. (And while you’re at it, suggest that a better way to fight waste is to push for greater use of Kendra’s Law, which has been proven to reduce the number and duration of hospital stays for the highest-risk patients.)

NYS Assembly: 518-455-4100

NYS Senate: 518-455-2800

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