GENESEO — Representatives from county governments across New York State were recently at the State Capitol to voice their concerns over changes to the Medicaid program contained in the Executive Budget and to call on state lawmakers to maintain the current Medicaid cost control caps. The daylong event was hosted by the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC).

“As we have always done, counties stand united behind lowering the cost of Medicaid and improving the quality of care for those in need,” said NYSAC President John F. Marren, the Ontario County Chair. “However, any state Medicaid proposal must protect local taxpayers and services by keeping the current cost control caps in place.”

New York is one of the few states in the nation to require county funds to cover the cost of Medicaid, and the only one that required county taxpayers to fund a full half of the State’s share when it was implemented in 1966. Today, counties and New York City fund $7.6 billion of the state’s more than $70 billion Medicaid program.

In 2012, to help counties and local governments adhere to the 2% property tax cap, Governor Cuomo and State Lawmakers enacted a zero growth Medicaid cap. The cap helped counties stabilize and, in several cases, reduce county property tax rate levies.

“We are willing to partner with the state to find ways to manage Medicaid costs and improve the quality of care for our residents,” said Livingston County Administrator Ian Coyle. “But local taxpayers can’t afford additional tax increases or cuts to services, which is why we must maintain the current state cost control caps. We must not get the blame for cost overruns and State budget deficits either.”

The proposals contained in the Executive Budget are projected to shift approximately $150 million in additional costs on to New York counties. In Livingston County, that could result in dramatic increases in property taxes or cuts to vital services.

“We recognize that the Medicaid program has been growing and is making a real difference in many people’s lives,” Coyle said. “But these costs are not controlled by counties, and we think it’s unfair to ask local taxpayers to foot the bill for increases that counties don’t control. From a local government perspective, this is the most fiscally onerous Medicaid program in the nation. Let’s not make it any more of a cost concern than it already is now.”