As NY waits for Medicaid waiver, hospitals on edge

The state of New York has been waiting 18 months for a waiver from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that would keep several of its hospitals from toppling into the fiscal abyss, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The waiver would provide for some federal funds through Medicaid managed care and other demonstration projects, according to the Albany Times-Union. Although New York would use the money to wring some $17 billion in long-term savings from the state's Medicaid program, it would also inject some $10 billion into the state in the short term, including $1.2 billion into the state's hospitals.

"We have been propping up the system, frankly, for about 18 months while we have been waiting," said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), according to the Times-Union. The state has already revised the waiver application in response to requests from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Cuomo administration also noted that Texas and California have received similar waivers. The Texas waiver, which is significantly larger than New York's, will eventually lead to up to $11.4 billion in funding from the federal government. That's despite the fact that there are numerous internal frictions within Texas' provider community.

According to Nirav Shah, M.D., New York State's health commissioner, about half of the state's 227 hospitals are fiscally distressed. The delay "is endangering New York's entire healthcare system," he told the Watertown Daily Times. Of particular concern are hospitals in the outer boroughs of New York City. Interfaith Medical Center is currently in bankruptcy hearings, while Long Island College Hospital is in danger of closing. Two other upstate facilities, St. Francis Medical Center in Poughkeepsie and Lake Shore Hospital are also in bankruptcy proceedings, according to the Times-Union.

To learn more:
- read the Times-Union article
- here's the Wall Street Journal article
- check out the Watertown Daily Times article