The top budget official in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration on Tuesday decried the concerns raised by New York City officials over plans to control local-level Medicaid spending as "scare tactics" amid a $2.5 billion budget gap in the program.
Budget Director Robert Mujica in the interview WNYC said the efforts would not lead to people being thrown off Medicaid rolls.
"New York City should engage us and they know that we did it before," he said. "So no one is going to be kicked off the rolls. Medicaid spending is not being cut year over year. We are talking about controlling the costs going forward to manageable level of 3% which is doable. New York City should help us, participate in the process and engage in a productive process instead of using these kinds of scare tactics."
Local officials, including in New York City and at the county level are leery of Cuomo's budget proposal to control Medicaid costs in order to close the gap.
Cuomo's plan would have counties spend more under the Medicaid program if property taxes increase by 2%, paying for any increases in local Medicaid spending that is more than 3% annually.
Cuomo intends to re-form the Medicaid Redesign Team to find additional savings and close a budget gap.
Savings are being reviewed under the re-formation of the panel, which was previously convened during the governor's first term.
Medicaid costs have spiraled in large part due to the explosion of long-term care costs. Mujica in the interview acknowledged there "have been expansions" in those programs.
And he said local governments, including New York City, have a role to play in the area.
"There have been specifically one of the areas where local governments, New York City specifically, has a larger role in determining the service plans," he said. "That area has grown by over 400 percent and it's not necessarily tied to demographics. The number of people over age 65 has only grown by about 20%, but the spending in the area has grown by about 400%."