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Cost-Saving and Cost-Containment Strategies for New York State's Local Governments

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2009
22 pages
This report presents a number of ideas proposed by the Office of the New York State Comptroller (OSC) that may assist New York local governments in identifying opportunities for cost-savings and revenue enhancement.
Three domains in which cost savings can be made are health insurance, energy, and jails. These three areas have experienced significant cost increases over the past decade. Best practices in other service-delivery categories are highlighted at the conclusion of the report. Health insurance, prescription drugs, and Medicaid are three high-cost expenses for local government in New York State. Three strategies have been used by local governments to control these costs. One strategy provides payments to employees in lieu of health insurance benefits. One county saved just over $2 million in health insurance costs between 2005 and 2008 by implementing a program that offers payment to employees in lieu of health insurance benefits. Several counties offer employees a lower cost, mail-order option for obtaining prescription drugs as part of their health benefit plans. Medicaid is one of the most expensive programs administered by New York's counties. According to a 2005 New York Times article, fraudulent Medicaid claims are rampant; reducing the number of fraudulent claims presents an opportunity for cost-savings. Other means of reducing local government's health care costs focus on Medicaid non-emergency medical transportation, and a copay rebate program. Cost savings in the domain of local government energy costs can be achieved through computer power management, energy audits, energy performance contracting, fuel-efficient municipal vehicles, wind and solar energy production, wastewater and sewage treatment facilities, and street lighting. Savings in local jail operations can be achieved by using cook-chill food preparation, telemedicine that eliminates transportation to health-care facilities, and the expanded use of alternatives to incarceration. 52 notes, figures, and a directory of regional OSC offices