Senate Health Committee Chair Holds Up Health Home Funding

NYAPRS Note: We are expecting to hear shortly about the next round of agreements that the Governor, Assembly and Senate have reached over the weekend, including if there’ll be a cut to NY’s health home program. NYAPRS has been working in coalition with a number of advocacy groups to oppose taking $200 million out of the program, the vast majority of which touches the lives of New Yorkers with mental health conditions (see https://www.nyaprs.org/e-news-bulletins/2018/3/22/advocates-decry-senate-proposal-to-cut-100-million-from-health-home-initiative)

Hannon, Demanding Data, Holds Up Health Home Funding.

By Dan Goldberg   Politico  March 26, 2018

State Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City) is demanding the Cuomo administration provide more and better information about the state health homes program, threatening to cut funding unless he sees some data explaining how hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars are being spent.

Hannon, chairman of the health committee, pushed for a $100 million cut to the program in the Senate's one-house budget. Because the program relies on a federal match, the consequences of such a move, were it to take effect, would be a $200 million cut, more than one-third of the program's budget.

"The idea was to get their attention," Hannon said, referring to the Cuomo administration, which he feels has been slow-walking his requests for three years.

Health homes are not a physical entity. They are a concept that coordinates care for the most expensive adult Medicaid patients. Typically, this is a population that has multiple illnesses, substance abuse issues or mental health problems. The idea of the health home is to focus intense resources on this subset of the Medicaid population and manage its care. Ideally, these patients are kept out of the emergency room, providing them with better health care and a long-term savings to the Medicaid program.

Hannon supports the concept, he said Thursday during an interview with POLITICO.

"We do not disagree with the goal of adult health homes," he said. "It's a good thing to do."

But Hannon said there are too many health homes that are, after several years, still in the beginning stages.

There are 35 health homes in the state with a total of 168,000 patients. The top 10 enroll 97,000 patients. The bottom 10 enroll 11,600.

What Hannon wants is the state to explain who is being served and what the outcomes are. He wants to know the end game — is this a perpetual enrollment or is there a fixed term?

"[Medicaid Director] Jason [Helgerson] and his magic machines are supposed to be the ones with the all the statistics," Hannon said. "They don't have it. We need specifics. We need actual data."

Morris Peters, a spokesman for the state Division of Budget, did not specifically respond to Hannon's criticisms that as many as one-third of health homes aren't operating as intended, but did say the state would provide data to show the concept was worth continued investment.

"Health homes are a care-coordination option for people with complex medical conditions and are an important component within the health care continuum," he said. "New York has improved health outcomes while lowering costs as a result of our data-driven analysis, and we will continue to provide data to show it."