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New York State Wins Tentative Approval for Medicaid Waiver

By Rebecca Adams, CQ HealthBeat Associate Editor

February 14, 2014 -- The Obama administration and New York state officials are working on implementing an $8 billion, five-year waiver plan to allow the state to update the health care delivery system and provide more funding for hospitals.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo had been pushing since 2012 to get as much as $10 billion in federal money. Federal officials confirmed that they had reached an agreement in principle with the state and will finalize additional details with state officials in the next few weeks.

The waiver will allow the state to shift Medicaid money within the health care system.

"While the state will be reviewing the terms and conditions of this agreement, it is clearly the biggest step forward towards a positive conclusion for our communities, particularly in Brooklyn, that have suffered from diminishing health care services," Cuomo said in a statement.

"Over the last several months we have worked with dedicated leaders in New York on a waiver agreement that represents a significant commitment to improve care delivery in Medicaid that will result in better health outcomes for patients and lower health care costs for the program," said Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) spokeswoman Emma Sandoe. "Today we are pleased to have notified the state that we have reached an agreement in principle. We are encouraged that this agreement is entering the final stages of approval, and we look forward to continuing work with the State to achieve meaningful delivery system reform in New York."

Democratic Sen. Charles E. Schumer said in a statement that "it's not everything New York asked for, but it is a generous amount."

And Rep. Eliot Engel said, "This waiver will help transform New York's vital Medicaid program by giving Governor Cuomo the flexibility to invest in new initiatives that expand access to primary care and enabling health care professionals to provide higher quality care. Hospitals in both the Bronx and Westchester County will benefit from the resources and assistance made available through this waiver. I hope that CMS and the Cuomo Administration will work to finalize the details of this waiver quickly."

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