Poloncarz Announces Plan to Manage County Medicaid Program

As County Executive, Poloncarz will Manage Costs by Reducing
Waste, Fraud and Abuse

BUFFALO, NY — County Executive Candidate Mark Poloncarz held a press conference outside of the Rath Building today to announce his plan to manage Erie County’s Medicaid program by reducing the burden on county taxpayers. Poloncarz focused on waste, fraud and abuse of Medicaid while offering solutions and suggestions for improving the quality of care for county residents and identifying short- and long-term cost savings.

“I am determined to reduce the cost of Medicaid for Erie County’s taxpayers. I have talked to voters around the county and I know that people are not upset with the services provided by Medicaid. Rather, they want the costs controlled and waste, fraud and abuse eliminated,” Poloncarz said. “It’s time that Erie County got it right. We shouldn’t be closing health clinics and forcing Medicaid patients to use emergency rooms for primary care. We should be helping these patients manage their health in a way that makes the most effective use of taxpayer dollars.”

Poloncarz outlined a two-part plan that he will begin implementing in his first term as County Executive. First, Poloncarz will create an Erie County Medicaid Inspector General to work alongside partners in state government to root out waste, fraud and abuse. To accomplish this, he will re-engineer the Department of Social Services’ Special Investigation Division and other county divisions to work with partners in state government and the private sector to identify provider fraud and collect payments.

“Instead of Erie County being a leader in the prevention of Medicaid fraud, we have barely left the startling line,” Poloncarz said. “Chris Collins doesn’t understand the basic funding structure of Medicaid if he believes that closing health clinics and forcing people to pay for eyeglasses and dental care is what Erie County needs. Erie County deserves a County Executive who understands that Medicaid costs must be reduced while ensuring that those who need care can have access to it. I understand that the residents of Erie County want an efficient Medicaid system and I will make it a first-term priority to turn our current system around.”

Second, Poloncarz will work toward creating an Erie Community Healthcare Office (ECHO), a central place to manage care for Medicaid patients. Such a center is already in place in Chemung County, where previously, Medicaid costs were 73 percent of the total county budget. Republican County Executive Tom Santulli opened the Priority Community Healthcare Center in March 2010 as a primary care office for Medicaid recipients. Within a year, the clinic produced approximately $2 million in savings while serving 3,000 patients, which came from fewer hospital and emergency room visits and an increase in disease management. A center like this in Erie County could produce similar cost savings while creating a place to provide quality care while reducing program misuse.

“I have a firm grasp on what Erie County citizens want to see out of the Medicaid program,” Poloncarz said. “The citizens of this county want Medicaid to run in a cost effective and efficient manner. I firmly believe that by creating a central place to manage care, we will not only improve the quality of patient outcomes, but also save Erie County taxpayer dollars while doing so. In addition to rigorous county oversight of Medicaid waste, fraud and abuse, I believe Erie County could become a leader in reforming Medicaid programs across New York State.”

This plan was released as part of a comprehensive report analyzing Erie County’s Medicaid program. The full report can be found at: http://markpoloncarz.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/7-19-11-Medicaid-Report.pdf