Assembly Republicans aim to chip away at ‘unfunded mandates’ through new plan

Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R-Canandaigua) and members of the Minority Conference unveiled a phased-in plan to address the burdensome New York State Medicaid program on Monday.

The plan would provide much-needed relief to local budgets – hit hard by ‘unfunded mandates’. The proposal would require the state to take over the local share of Medicaid and stimulate faster and stronger economic growth by reducing property taxes.

“New York’s Medicaid program is the second most costly in the nation behind California, a state with more than double the amount of enrollees,” Leader Kolb said. “Simply put, we can no longer sit idly by and watch New York take ownership of another ‘Worst Of’ label. Continuing to force localities to pay massive Medicaid costs leads to higher property taxes and punishes taxpayers, homeowners and businesses alike. We must change how New York does business when it comes to managing sky-high Medicaid enrollee costs.”

“Local taxpayers in New York’s 57 counties and New York City are required under state law to pay $7.5 billion annually to support New York’s largest-in-the-nation Medicaid program,” said Stephen Acquario, Executive Director, New York State Association of Counties. “It is beyond the capacity of local governments and their taxpayers to continue funding this federal and state program at their level. We applaud Assemblyman Kolb and the Minority Conference for continuing this discussion in the state Legislature.”

“From a national perspective, we applaud Leader Kolb and the Assembly Minority Conference for their efforts to provide relief for New York’s county governments and local taxpayers with escalating Medicaid costs,” said Matthew Chase, Executive Director, National Association of Counties. “While county governments across the country are involved in the Medicaid program, counties in New York have carried a disproportionate, unsustainable funding burden that is typically handled by state governments. This Medicaid reform proposal is timely and much appreciated by county leaders.”

“As a longtime advocate of Medicaid reform, I have been at the forefront of rallying for changes that improve the system,” said Assemblyman Andrew Raia (R,C,I,Ref-East Northport), Ranking Minority Member on the Committee on Health. “This is a complicated subject and we cannot overlook any aspect of this program. What my colleagues and I are calling for is an assurance that proper checks and balances will be implemented to reduce abuse. Medicaid reform is extremely important to me and I will continue to work diligently to ensure that the proper steps are taken to improve the program.”

According to the Division of the Budget, New York’s Medicaid program cost $72.1 billion in 2017-18. New York’s localities are paying up to $8.2 billion annually toward the program, and New York is one of only 18 states that require counties to cover some of the non-federal costs of Medicaid.

Components of the Assembly Minority’s structural change to the Medicaid program (A.9901, Kolb) include:

  • State Takeover of the Local Share of Medicaid Outside of New York City;
  • Takeover of the local share of Medicaid for counties outside of NYC over a 10-year period;
  • Require the state to assume the local share of Medicaid costs, over multiple years, to allow the state time to make structural changes that do not reduce services to the overall cost of the program; and
  • Require all local savings realized from the program to be passed on directly to property taxpayers.

“If you live and work in New York State, you aren’t just shouldering the cost of the Medicaid program in your federal and state income taxes – you’re paying for Medicaid through your property taxes, too,” said Cheryl Dinolfo, Monroe County Executive. “In Monroe County, our 2018 Medicaid payment to Albany will total $175 million. If we were empowered to pass those savings on to taxpayers, we would be able to cut our property tax rate nearly in half. I thank Minority Leader Kolb and the Assembly Minority Conference for advancing this legislation that would lower taxes and help grow local jobs and our economy.”

“Unfunded mandates handed down from New York State handcuff our counties, limiting the number of critical services counties can provide to citizens,” said Marcus J. Molinaro, Dutchess County Executive. “In Dutchess County, these mandates account for 70 percent of each dollar our taxpayers pay. Minority Leader Kolb’s proposal will lift a major burden off the backs of state property taxpayers, providing much-needed tax relief that will benefit New Yorkers and boost our state economy.”

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