‘Keep the Cap’ say Yates County leaders

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express
Wearing blue baseball caps emblazoned with “Keep the Cap,” provided by the N.Y. State Association of Counties, Yates County Legislator and Finance Committee Chair Leslie Church, Legislature Chair Doug Paddock, and County Administrator Nonie Flynn urged State Sen. Tom O’Mara and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano to carry their objections back to Albany over the costs of Medicaid being forced onto local property tax payers.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2021 proposed budget contains several proposals that will have a significant negative effect on county governments and local taxpayers, according to Winona Flynn, Yates County Administrator. Primary among these, she warns, is the modification of the existing Medicaid cap and the federal Affordable Care Act credit. These provisions could cost Yates County up to $800,000 annually and shift costs to local taxpayers.

The first proposal would require any increase over the current 3% cap in local Medicaid share spending to be paid to the state. The second proposal would allow the state to intercept Enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (eFMAP) funds. Congress included eFMAP as part of the Affordable Care Act to reimburse state governments, like New York, who had already paid for extending Medicaid benefits to hundreds of thousands of previously ineligible people. This funding was targeted to counties to help offset Medicaid costs already paid by local taxpayers.

“We recognize that the Medicaid program has been growing and is making a real difference in many people’s lives,” says Flynn. “But these costs are not controlled by counties and it’s unfair to ask local taxpayers to foot the bill for increases that we don’t control.”

In Yates County, 65 cents of every property tax dollar pays for state-mandated programs and services. The Governor’s proposals, if passed, will only increase that percentage by placing a severe and undue burden on local government and taxpayers, says Flynn. She warns that the total cost to Yates County taxpayers for Medicaid payments could be as high as 46% of the local tax levy annually.

By undoing the Medicaid cost cap and intercepting eFMAP savings, the State is putting county taxpayers at risk of shouldering more Medicaid costs with increased property taxes and/or cuts to services that are not mandated, like veterans’ programs, road repair, youth services, mental health and addiction services, senior services and road patrol.

In their visit to the Yates County Legislature at a special meeting Friday, State Sen. Tom O’Mara and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano heard the Yates legislators’ plea to state lawmakers and the governor to remove Part R of the HMH Article VII bill, the Medicaid Local District Spending Reforms, from their one house budget bills, and to fight to keep it out of the final budget.

At Monday’s legislature meeting, they passsed a resolution with the same message.