New York State has drafted a proposal that will be submitted to the US Department of Health and Human Services, requesting flexibility in how it uses Medicaid funds. Known as a “Medicaid waiver,” the proposal includes a request for $13.52 billion to be used over five years. The intent is to design innovative ways of using Medicaid funds that will promote health equity and address health disparities.
Despite the fact this waiver is focused on equity, the investments in the current proposal are not aligned with the needs of the poorest and most diverse population of New Yorkers who rely on Medicaid: children. In New York, Medicaid covers 50% of births each year, 60% of children ages 0 – 3 years, and 40% of children ages 0 – 18 years, but the proposal fails to address the racial and ethnic disparities in maternal and infant morbidity and mortality, glaring disparities in early childhood health, or the overwhelming crisis New York is facing in youth mental health.
Without an explicit and specific focus on children in the waiver, New York will fail to achieve its four proposed goals. We call on the New York State Department of Health to amend its proposal to explicitly prioritize incentives and payment methodologies in seven areas:
Goal: Build a resilient, flexible and integrated delivery system to reduce health disparities
Goal: Redesign and strengthen system capabilities to advance health equity
Goal: Create statewide digital health and telehealth infrastructure
We urge the Department of Health to reverse New York’s historic under-investment in children. Healthy growth and development of children today will bring long-term value to Medicaid and other public systems, including but not limited to education, child welfare, and juvenile justice.
The Children’s Agenda advocates for effective policies and drives evidenced-based solutions for the health, education and success of children. We are especially committed to children who are vulnerable because of poverty, racism, health inequities and trauma.