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State lawmakers mull Medicaid changes

New York state Assemblyman Bob Reilly D-Colonie, is pushing for a bill that will relieve counties of the administrative costs for Medicaid, passing it on to the state.

He said the bill, if passed, will ultimately save $370 million.

Currently, counties are required to cover the administrative costs associated with Medicaid thus placing the burden on local property tax payers, Reilly said. "The plan put forth by the Assembly would provide much-needed tax relief to families by building a more uniform system and eliminating waste that comes from inefficiency and redundancy."

Reilly said consolidation generally leads to savings, and the ultimate goal of the bill is to cut costs. He said if the bill passes, the state will bring uniformity to Medicaid administration where it now lacks.

"We have oftentimes very, very many separate entities doing the same things," he said.

Reilly said that although county contributions to Medicaid administration are capped, with the federal and state government paying the lion's share of it, relieving the burden on counties will ultimately save taxpayers money.

"I think it will pass," Reilly said.

He said the federal government handles close to 50 percent of the costs, while the state handle about 35 percent and the counties 15 percent.

He said that with such a move, some county employees may become state employees.

Medicaid administration costs are expected to be approximately $1.1 billion in 2010-11. The county contribution toward the administrative component of Medicaid will be limited to $329.8 million. Local administration costs have doubled in the past five years, according to Reilly, and the state takeover will relieve the burden on counties.

"In this tough economic climate, consolidating entities and streamlining services is the smart thing to do," Reilly said.

Mary Duryea, a representative from Albany County said the information about the bill is vague, and County Executive Mike Breslin's office is actively seeking more information about how the structure of the Medicaid administration will change and the ways it will save money.

"We would welcome any relief to the taxpayer through the Medicaid program," she said.

Duryea said Albany County spent $3.1 million between March 2008 and March 2009 on Medicaid administration.

When, and if, the state implements the program, Duryea said county officials will be able to better understand its impact and effect to the taxpayers.

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