NEW YORK: Comptroller Extends Medicaid Transfer Program:
Despite New York state Comptroller H. Carl McCall's "serious concerns" about New York City's efforts to move one million Medicaid recipients into managed health care plans, he last week approved a two-year, $40 million extension of the program but also submitted a list of recommendations to improve the project, the New York Times reports. In extending the program, McCall said he still had concerns about Maximus, a Virginia-based contractor hired to help enroll Medicaid recipients into their new plans, and the State Department of Health's oversight and monitoring of the company. Maximus establishes neighborhood seminars and operates telephone centers to address patients' questions about the managed care plans (Lipton, New York Times, 7/1). McCall also said that as of early June, he was "troubled" that Medicaid managed care information distributed by Maximus was available only in English and Spanish (Stashenko, AP/Albany Times Union, 7/1). McCall asked the state and Maximus to improve staff training and monitoring, noting that the information distributed by staff members is "frequently inaccurate." McCall also recommended that the state-maintained list of health plan physicians should be revised and that the state simplify the process of granting mandatory enrollment waivers for those who have special conditions or cannot find a doctor in the network who speaks their language. In a letter to state Health Commissioner Antonia Novello, McCall wrote, "This is not simply an issue of contract compliance. The health and well-being of Medicaid recipients is dependent upon the quality of these outreach services." John Signor, spokesperson for the state health department, responded, "We will continue to monitor and oversee Maximus to ensure Medicaid recipients receive quality health care and it is done in a culturally sensitive and language-friendly manner" (New York Times, 7/1). But Signor added that the issues McCall raised "are really old" and "have mostly been taken care of." McCall spokesperson Theresa Bourgeois countered: "We know the problems aren't new. The problem is [the health department has] failed to address them. But they have now agreed to address the issues, which is why the comptroller agreed to let the contract to go forward" (AP/Albany Times Union, 7/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.