Proposal to chop millions from Medicaid may hurt county budgets

Published: Mar. 5, 2023 at 5:28 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Many New Yorkers across the state use Medicaid, a health insurance program for those with limited income and resources.

But a new proposal out of Albany would take $625 million away from county governments to use towards its local allocation.

It’s part of Governor Kathy Hochul’s proposed budget plan.

“There’s a lot of cause and effect when you do budgets. And this has got a huge effect,” said Assemblyman Scott Gray.

The proposal was discussed at NYSAC, or the New York State Association of Counties’, annual meeting. Several lawmakers formally voiced their opposition and introduced a resolution to allow counties to keep their Medicaid money.

“It’s a misguided decision to my point. I was disheartened to hear the Medicaid director double down on it,” said Gray.

In many counties, including Jefferson, budgets have already been made with Medicaid in mind.

“When the state does something like this, it significantly impacts what is already budgeted and what is in place,” said Gray.

So if things change, legislators will have to act quick.

“We would have to come up with the money for at least half a year from the current budget. We’d either have to take it from fund balance or another possible source,” said Jefferson County Legislator Bill Johnson.

A possible measure, increased property taxes, so counties can make up for lost revenue. Gray says St. Lawrence County could see a 6% increase, forcing a vote to override the cap of 2%.

And in Jefferson County-

“It amounts to the first year about $2 million. If you compare that to the current tax levee. It’d be about a 4% in increase,” said Johnson.

But when will we know if this proposal will move forward?

Legislators are expected to come to an agreement on a final budget by April 1st.