As New York State tries to dig out of a two million dollar deficit, ARISE Executive Director Tom McKown has an idea. Privatize many of the services currently done by government workers. He says groups like ARISE, which serves the disabled population in Central New York, and other non-profits can fill the gap if government went out of business.
“We currently do the same work on behalf of and with people with disabilities that the state workforce and county workforces do," said McKown. "I think if the Governor is calling for Medicaid savings, one major way to do that is to privatize the services.”
McKown says that the governor certainly has the political clout right now to do that, but doesn't seem to be focusing on it. As an example, he says the Onondaga county gets 40-percent more in medicaid reimbursements than ARISE for the same services.
“I discovered what the new rates were as of January 1 for mental health services provided by not for profits and by the counties. This county (Onondaga) will be paid 40% higher to do the same services we are doing. And I don’t know why.”
McKown says not-for-profits like ARISE could take on the added mental health cases if government went out of that business, and ultimately save money. He says one reason they can do that is there is less cost for infrastructure on their end. He's also concerned about how the new managed care system will work. He worries that these state sanctioned health care companies will add another layer of costly bureaucracy to the system, which in the end will mean fewer services for those who need them. ARISE offers support for people with developmental disibilities across Central New York. It serves 4,000 people a year.