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My Day in Albany

By Deirdre Byrne, Director of Policy, Children's Health Fund

On Monday, I traveled to Albany with one of the doctors at the New York Children’s Health Project, Dr. A.J. Khaw. Our agenda for the day included several meetings with legislators and fellow advocates from the Providers of Health Care for the Homeless Coalition. This is budget season in Albany and the state is facing a $10 billion budget deficit. While the state has not proposed cutting Medicaid rolls or other drastic measures, the Governor formed a Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT) to find $2.85 billion in savings for FY 2012, which starts on April 1, 2011, and beyond.

During our meetings, Dr. Khaw and I talked about our programs and state budget concerns, including a proposal by the MRT to enroll all homeless children and families into Medicaid managed care, an alternative that may not work well for homeless children. This is just one of 79 MRT recommendations put forward by Governor Cuomo that must be approved by the legislature as part of the budget process. (Learn more about the recommendations from the Medicaid Redesign Team.)

While the state has successfully implemented managed care for a majority of Medicaid recipients, we believe that the use of managed care for this population is inappropriate and interferes with their access to care. Homeless children and families face unique challenges as a patient population; requiring enrollment in managed care cripples their access to care and also puts health care for the homeless providers at moral and financial risk.

Want to know more? Read CHF’s letter to the MRT on homeless health care.