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                County Legislators Lobby Against Proposals to Shift Medicaid Costs to Local Taxpayers

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                County Legislators Lobby Against Proposals to Shift Medicaid Costs to Local Taxpayers

                Tuesday, February 18, 2020

                For the second time in two weeks, Tompkins County Legislators walked the halls of the Capitol in Albany, meeting with legislative leadership and committee chairs to push back against Governor Cuomo¡¯s proposals to shift Medicaid costs to county taxpayers.

                Legislators Martha Robertson, Shawna Black, Henry Granison, Anne Koreman, and Mike Sigler joined a bipartisan group of 40 other county leaders in the advocacy day February 12th organized by the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC). On January 29th, Robertson and Koreman were joined in Albany for a similar round of meetings by legislators Anna Kelles and Deborah Dawson and County Administrator Jason Molino.

                ¡°The Governor has proposed a number of cost shifts to counties in his budget, but undoing the cap on the local share of Medicaid is by far the single biggest worry for us,¡± explained Molino. ¡°Counties are united, as we seek to ¡®Keep the Cap¡¯ and protect local taxpayers and the vital services that our communities need and deserve.¡±

                ¡°Every single person we met with in Albany supports county taxpayers in this,¡± added Robertson. ¡°They acknowledge that counties have accepted and lived within the property tax cap, because the State took over the growth in state-directed Medicaid costs. The Governor¡¯s plan would blow that up and your property taxes would skyrocket.¡±

                ¡°The Governor¡¯s proposal would cost Tompkins County more than $1.5 million, which is a 13% increase in our Medicaid share,¡± said Interim Chair of the Legislature Shawna Black. ¡°We couldn¡¯t just raise property taxes enough to cover it; that would be a 3% property tax levy by itself!¡±

                NYSAC acknowledges the billion-dollar shortfall in the Medicaid budget over the next several years, but that is primarily due to decisions by New York State, as well as the aging population and a long-expected decrease in federal reimbursements. Counties simply administer Medicaid according to the state¡¯s rules and regulations.

                On the agenda at tonight¡¯s (Tuesday, February 18) County Legislature meeting is a resolution opposing the proposed cost shift to county taxpayers, and maintaining the current local Medicaid caps. The County has also joined in a social media campaign, #MedicaidTuesday and #KeepTheCap, driving home how much local taxpayer money is sent to Albany each week to pay for New York¡¯s cost of Medicaid. For Tompkins County, that figure amounts to $219,478/week, for a total of $1,536,346 since the start of 2020.