AHCA Amendment Could Bring Mandate Relief to Upstate Counties

Funding Medicaid in New York State is a pricey responsibility.

"The federal government pays 50 percent and then the states pick up 50 percent," said 22nd Congressional District Representative Claudia Tenney. "New York is one of the very few states where New York pays 25 percent and the other 25 percent gets paid by the local governments."

According to Tenney, 81 percent of Oneida County's property tax revenue in 2015 went toward the state's Medicaid share. In Broome County, it was 53 percent. 

But a proposed amendment for the American Health Care Act could eliminate that mandate and force the state to pay their share on their own. It's called the Medicaid Local Share Limitation Amendment. 

Tenney said this mandate relief would give counties the freedom to use that money on other necessities, such as infrastructure or lower property taxes. 

"We want the lion's share of that to go back to the taxpayers and property tax owners, particularly who are really the ones footing the bill for this Medicaid," she said.

But Democrats say this amendment isn't fixing the problem, it's just shifting responsibility.

"It's still going to impact low-income residents the most, senior citizens, people who are working-class Americans who are going to see their premiums go up because of this plan," said Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, "and whether the counties are paying for it or the state's paying for it, it's going to be a direct hit on the budget."

Brindisi says this amendment could have a $4 billion impact on the budget. Tenney says it's closer to $2 billion, and says the money from the governor's award programs should be used for these purposes instead. 

Local county executives have also expressed their support for an amendment like this. 

Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente released a statement saying, "Counties have been advocating for relief from the disproportionate share of the State of New York Medicaid budget for years. I would welcome any amendment that would provide relief as it would have a significant impact on all levels of taxation in Oneida County.”

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