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Rockland To NYS: Take Back Medicaid

New City, Oct 7 — Three NYS Assemblymen, a State Senator and and the head of Rockland County’s executive and legislative branches announced their support yesterday for new legislation to shift Medicaid costs from New York’s counties to the state.

If approved, the bill would incrementally transfer all responsibility for funding the nearly-$53 billion program to the New York State,  eliminating the local share now paid by county governments. Rockland County’s 2011 share of Medicaid expenditures was $65.7 million.

‘€œCounties are saddled with mandates that place the burden squarely on the shoulders of taxpayers who desperately need relief,’€  NYS Senator David Carlucci, co-sponsor of the legislation. NYS Assembly co-sponsor Ellen Jaffee says a concerted effort must be made to reform unfunded mandates. “This bill will go a long way towards making sure municipalities can live within the tax cap while containing to provide the essential services our communities need to maintain their quality of life,” she said.

The proposal initially freezes local Medicaid costs, providing $180 million in immediate local savings statewide.  The proposal will eliminate the automatic three percent annual spending increase currently required by statute. Starting in the fourth quarter of 2012, the local share would then be reduced by five percent, providing counties with an additional $75 million — totaling $255 million in savings for county governments. Between 2013 and 2019, local Medicaid costs will continue to be gradually reduced as the state assumes an increasing share of the burden.

“I am pleased that Senator Carlucci and other Lower Hudson Valley members of the New York State Legislature are supporting legislation that will require state policy makers to take full responsibility for New York’s largest in the nation Medicaid program which would be implemented through an eight year gradual State takeover of county Medicaid costs,’€ said Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef.

Rockland County Legislature Chairwoman Harriet Cornell said the county needs mandate relief so that other pressing needs can be addressed. “Rockland’s local share of Medicaid costs, representing almost 1/10 of our entire budget exceeding our property tax revenue,” Cornell said.

“Giving our counties relief from the Medicaid burden is something that will significantly help their budgets. I am committed to working with my colleagues and the administration on achieving this goal in the next session,” added Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski.

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