Health Policy - New York State

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April 06, 2004

Comments

Steve Malanga

That section of my Wal-Mart story is about a report issued in California which has no direct evidence that Wal-Mart employees there are fleeing for Medicaid coverage, but merely uses dubious methods to project the "cost" to the state's Medicaid program.

For a little context on New York state, however, consider a comment made to me which I included in my Spring, 2001 story, 'How political malpractice crippled New York's healthcare.' After the child health plus and family health plus programs were established, a number of NY businesses told me that their employees wanted to opt out of private health care in favor of the programs. I quoted one in the story:

"Some of my employees actually asked me to drop our company coverage for a year so that they could join the state program, because it’s so much more generous than the coverage I can afford to offer," says Roger Hannay, owner of Hannay Reels.

At the time I thought this was an alarming fact, which said much about how NY had misdesigned its health care reform around an ever-growing Medicaid system, though no one in state politics seemed to think so. So now I wouldn't be surprised if hourly employees at a retailer like Wal-Mart were signing up for the state's programs, and if employees at other covered companies had dropped their private insurance in favor of the state's programs. But it's typical of NY politics that people might only see this as alarming now that it's happening at a tempting target like Wal-Mart. And of course, they'll blame Wal-Mart, not the state's dysfunctional Medicaid system which created the pereverse incentives that encourage this kind of action.

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