DiNapoli: Diabetes Medicaid Costs Hit $1.2B

dinapoliDiabetes-related services for Medicaid recipients costs New York $1.2 billion in, according to a report released on Friday by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

The costs for diabetes care is growing: Over a five-year period ending in March 2014, expenses related to diabetes increased by $293.7 million — a 31 percent jump. During the same time period, Medicaid costs grew by $9.4 billion, or 21 percent, to $54.9 billion in the 2013-14 fiscal year.

About 460,000 Medicaid recipients are diagnosed with diabetes and receiving services under the program related to the disease. Overall, 1 in 10 adult New Yorkers have been diagnosed with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.

“Millions of New Yorkers suffer from diabetes and the numbers are growing. It is a costly disease to fight given its chronic nature and the severity of its complications,” DiNapoli said. “Preventing diabetes is difficult not only in New York but across the country. The state Department of Health (DOH) deserves credit for openly acknowledging the ongoing challenge of diabetes prevention and the need for more progress in meeting this major health issue. Clearly, the battle against diabetes must continue to be a priority.”

Compounding the problem, the poorest New Yorkers have the highest prevalence of diabetes, with those who earn less than $15,000 a year comprising 15.9 percent of diabetes patients.

Racial and ethnic minorities, along with the elderly, are also highly impacted by diabetes, with the prevalence of the disease among African-American adults at 14.2 percent and 11.4 percent among Latinos. More >

DiNapoli Report Assesses MTA’s $9.8B Capital Shortfall

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority faces a $9.8 billion shortfall in its capital program that could lead to future fare and toll increases unless the state and city increase their contributions to pay for needed upgrades.

The report calls into question whether the MTA — which provides bus, rail and train service in the metropolitan area — will be able to cap future fare and toll hikes to 4 percent as planned. Limiting those increases will depend in large part on whether the city and state will make funding available and whether the economy continues to grow as it has been, the report found.

“The MTA is looking to the state and the city to close the remaining $9.8 billion funding gap in its five-year capital program. While we don’t yet know how the gap will be closed, we do know that the public mass transportation system is critical to the state and city economies” DiNapoli said. “If the MTA doesn’t get the funding it needs, the MTA will have to choose between cutting the size of the capital program or borrowing more, which could lead to less reliable service or higher fares and tolls.”

The MTA’s current capital program for 2015-2019 includes the suggested state increase of $7.3 billion to a total of $8.3 billion and that the city hike its own contribution $3.2 billion — a $2.5 billion increase. More >

DiNapoli: 15 Local Governments Have ‘Significant’ Fiscal Stress

dinapoliMore than a dozen local governments — ranging from upstate and suburban counties to cities — have “significant” fiscal stress troubles, a report released on Wednesday by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli found.

“The financial trends in some local governments have not improved over the past three years, and it is looking tougher for New York’s cities,” said DiNapoli. “While it is clear that our municipalities continue to struggle with balancing revenues against increasing costs, we also know that sensible budgeting and developing comprehensive multiyear financial plans are crucial to overcoming both current and future fiscal challenges.”

The review of calendar-year 2014 financial data provided to the comptroller’s office found that overall 15 communities have significant stress factors weighing on their finances, including the counties of Monroe, Broome, Nassau, St. Lawrence, Franklin and Rockland; the cities of Glen Cove and Albany and towns East Fishkill, Jasper, Ramapo, Pierrepont, Coeymans, Cherry Valley and Parish.

An additional 11 communities are a second-tier category as having “moderate” stress on their finances, including Suffolk County, the cities of Poughkeepsie, Little Falls, Fulton and Glens Falls; and the towns of Hempstead, Colonie, Napoli, Saugerties, Rochester and German Flatts, the report found.

Overall, 44 local governments have some degree of financial trouble currently or potentially on the horizon. More >

Report Finds ‘Lax Policies’ In Student Grade Changes

dinapoliFive school districts were found to have little to no oversight of changes to student grades, while sixth doesn’t track the history of altered grades, a report from Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office released on Monday found.

A state audit of five districts — Arlington, Elmira, Fairport, Freeport and Saratoga Springs — found the changes in student grades were approved without proper or supporting documentation. A six school district, Williamsville, doesn’t detail grade change histories.

While the report doesn’t accuse the school districts of any wrongdoing, the lack of oversight can call into question how easily data like graduation rates and teacher performance can be altered.

“When proper controls are not in place, there is the possibility of student grades being inappropriately altered,” DiNapoli said. “When grades are changed, there needs to be a record justifying the changes. These lax policies could easily be manipulated and graduation rates, college placement and teacher performance could be compromised by these system weaknesses.”

The audit, which covered July 2013 through May 2015, included a review of 90 grade changes made by non-teachers, including guidance counsels and support staff, at each of the school districts. Of the 450 grade changes examined, auditors found 44 percent were not supported with written documentation that informed the student of teacher authorizing the change. More >

DiNapoli: Tax Receipts $609M Above Projections

The state’s tax receipts in August were $609 million above the state Division of Budget’s projections in August, according to a report issued by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office.

“The state’s cash position has improved further in recent months, largely because of higher than projected revenues and lower than projected spending,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “However, with the state’s strong reliance on Wall Street profitability and the recent volatility in financial markets, the revenue outlook for the remainder of the fiscal year is uncertain.”

Collections last month totaled $29.8 billion, 10.5 percent higher than the same period last year. Overall, tax collections were $355.6 million more than the latest projections and $1.3 billion more than the initial estimates in the state budget.

august2015.pdf by Nick Reisman

DiNapoli: OT Jumps $21M In First Six Months (Updated)

moneyWorkers at state agencies have racked up more than $337 million in overtime during for the first half of 2015 — a $21 million jump over that same period last year, a report from Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office released on Wednesday found.

State workers at those agencies examined accrued more than 8.2 million hours in overtime — a 5 percent increase over the first six months of 2014.

The state could be in line for a record amount of overtime should the pace continue, with DiNapoli projecting it could exceed $700 million in 2015.

“Even without counting the additional overtime caused by the prison-break in June, overtime has escalated at a record pace,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “State agencies should scrutinize their management practices and see what changes can be made to reduce their reliance on overtime.”

More >

DiNapoli: Tier Six Not A Driving Force In Contribute Rate Change

moneyThe cost-saving pension level Tier Six is not necessarily the main factor in driving down employer contribution rates, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said in a radio interview.

DiNapoli announced on Friday contribution rates for the retirement fund — the average percentage of payroll paid by local governments and school districts — would decline by 15 percent. Police and fire contributions would fall by 2 percent.

The reduction is the third time the rate has fallen in the last three years.

But DiNapoli said the recent addition of Tier Six under Gov. Andrew Cuomo — which followed Tier 5 during David Paterson’s time in office — is just one of many factors. More >

Pension Contribution Rates And Rate Of Return To Decrease

dinapoliThe employer contribution rates for the state pension fund in the coming 2016-17 fiscal year will once again decrease, but so will the assumed rate of return for the fund overall, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli on Friday announced.

The reduced contribution rate — good news for local governments that pay into the state pension system for their public employees — was long anticipated from DiNapoli.

The assumed reduction in the overall rate of return for the fund, which was valued at the close of the 2014-15 fiscal year on March 31 at $184.5 billion, comes after weeks of volatility in both foreign and domestic markets.

The overall employee contribution rate for the common retirement system will decrease from 18.2 percent of payroll to 15.5 percent — a roughly 15 percent decrease. The average contribution rate for the police and fire retirement system will decline by 2 percent — from 24.7 percent of payroll costs to 24.3 percent. More >

DiNapoli: Settlement Funds Boost State’s Coffers

moneyThe state took in less tax revenue than projected by the Division of Budget, about $17.7 million lower, account to a report released on Friday by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

Still, the July cash report from the comptroller found the tax revenue is more than $1 billion higher than initially forecasted by budget officials.

The fund balance overall remains at “historical levels” at $9.6 billion — fueled in part by the one-shot settlement funds. All-funds receipts, totaling just under $49.5 billion through July 31, were $1.6 billion higher than initially estimated due to the financial settlements.

“Personal Income Tax collections remain strong, and one-time settlement funds have temporarily boosted available funds,” DiNapoli said. “However, due to increased collections from historically volatile sources and the one-shot nature of billions of dollars in settlement proceeds, it is important to closely monitor results as the year progresses to ensure the state’s fiscal picture stays on track.” More >

DiNapoli, In Op/Ed, Call For Broad Public Financing Program

dinapoliComptroller Tom DiNapoli in an op/ed on Wednesday in The Times Union called the decision to not participate in a one-off public financing program for his race “one of the hardest decisions of my career.”

In the essay, DiNapoli reiterated his call for a statewide system of publicly financed campaigns, but also provides his most extensive explanation to date for why he did not participate in the program.

His Republican opponent, Bob Antonacci, ultimately sought public matching dollars, but did not raise enough money to qualify for the program. DiNapoli handily won re-election last year.

“The legislation was sloppy, inadequate and unsound in so many ways that good government groups that had spent decades fighting for this change were outraged and encouraged me to reject it,” DiNapoli wrote in the op/ed. “In the end, I agreed with the advocates and chose not to participate in the pilot. There were too many signs that the program was doomed from the start. Perhaps it was designed to fail.” More >