State of State-New York

View of the New York state Senate Chamber before members meet on the opening day of the legislative session at the state Capitol in Albany, N.Y. Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

Robert Harding

ALBANY — New York’s county governments are suggesting the state could curb rising Medicaid spending by reviewing a practice that allows an institutionalized spouse to qualify for the government health program if the other spouse refuses to provide financial support.

Only New York and Florida allow the practice known as “spousal refusal” in the awarding of Medicaid benefits, the New York State Association of Counties points out.

Medicaid now serves 6 million New Yorkers, with the program’s soaring expenditures now accounting for a large share of the $6 billion budget deficit the state faces in the fiscal year beginning April 1.

New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC), the umbrella organization for county governments, suggested a review of spousal refusal as one of 29 recommendations to a Medicaid Redesign Team created by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.