Counties and some state lawmakers want the state to pick up the local governments’ share of Medicaid costs.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today don’t expect it to happen, saying the state has its own budget problems.
“Do we have money to subsidize them? No,” Cuomo said at a news conference today.
Cuomo said the state is facing a $2 billion budget gap for the 2012-13 fiscal year, and the budget gap could grow because of the troubles on Wall Street, which generally accounts for about 20 percent of the state’s revenue.
He said the state is “not in a position to be picking any additional costs since we need $2 billion just to get back to zero.”
A bi-partisan group of lawmakers along with county executives have been pushing legislation that would lead to a phase out of the local cost for Medicaid, which is a huge hit on county budgets. New York’s Medicaid program costs $53 billion, and the cost is split between federal, state and local governments.
On average, Medicaid accounts for 45 percent of a county’s local property tax levy. The bill would freeze Medicaid costs and immediately save counties about $180 million a year. The local share would be phased out entirely by 2019.
Cuomo noted how the state several years ago capped counties’ Medicaid costs at a growth of 3 percent each year, which has been a major savings for them. He said the state simply can’t pick up more of the tab.
“I could sit here and say the federal government should pick up my cost. The federal government would say that it’s a nice idea, but we don’t have the money either,” Cuomo continued. “It’s a function of the overall economy, and everybody has to recalibrate and everybody has to make it work.”