January 4, 2011 8:00AM

How Gov. Cuomo Can Fix New York’s Budget Mess

New York’s budget problem is actually a Medicaid problem. In Sunday’s New York Post, I offer advice to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) on how to fix a budget gap that will grow to $17 billion during his term:

Gov. Cuomo can’t fix Medicaid by himself. He needs the help of Congress.

There is a solution…

Block grants are how President Bill Clinton and a Republican Congress reformed welfare back in 1996, to spectacular success. Welfare reform forced New York to be smarter about welfare spending, just as a block grant would force New York to rededicate Medicaid to its original mission — providing necessary medical care to the truly needy.

There’s one place Gov. Cuomo can start on his own: Close the loopholes that allow well‐​to‐​do New Yorkers to feign poverty on paper so that Medicaid underwrites their long‐​term care. Medicaid exists for the poor, not to help well‐​off baby boomers protect their inheritance.

Steve Moses of the non‐​partisan Center for Long‐​Term Care Reform recommends that Cuomo take steps to ensure that New Yorkers with means pay for their own long‐​term care. These include reducing New York’s home‐​equity exemption from $750,000 to $500,000 (and seeking a federal waiver to reduce it to $0), expanding the use of liens and estate recovery and ending the abusive practice of “spousal refusal.”

Reducing Medicaid abuse won’t be easy. But Cuomo doesn’t have much choice.

In fact, what he has is an opportunity to become the leading national spokesperson for block grants, the quickest and easiest course to relief for states toiling under the unsustainable yoke of Medicaid spending.

For more on Medicaid reform, click here. For more on abuse of Medicaid’s long‐​term care subsidies, click here.