Facing a six-billion-dollar state deficit, Governor Cuomo once again calls for the creation of a Medicaid task force. We have been here before. In 2011, Governor Cuomo created a similar task force that rightly identified lawsuits and litigation as a primary driver of medical costs.
Rightly so, just last year New York spent more per capita on medical liability payouts than any other state. An earlier report noted that New York pays out more for medical lawsuits than the entire Midwest.
One of the top 10 lowest states for medical liability payouts per capita is similarly blue California. The Sunshine State enjoys far lower medical costs because the state enacted reasonable caps on pain and suffering awards under Democratic Governor Jerry Brown.
In 2011, Governor Cuomo’s Medicaid Redesign Team recommended caps similar to California’s noting a potential 24% savings. Unfortunately, by the time the task force released their final report, the body had buckled to the politically powerful trial lawyer lobby and the common sense call for caps had been removed.
Without any meaningful progress on caps or medical liability costs, it is no surprise that our state budget is once again in crisis. If the Governor wants to truly address the cost of medical care, he must stand up to the trial lawyers and champion the caps his own task force initially recommended during the last budget crisis.
TOM STEBBINS, executive director, Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York, Albany