January 15, 2004

Counties and Medicaid

There doesn't appear to be much news focused on Dryden this morning, although I suspect the US Airways plane which had trouble lowering its landing gear (but landed safely) flew overhead at some point. There should be news tomorrow, as there's a Town Board meeting tonight. I'll take the opportunity to follow up on the battle between counties and the state over Medicaid that I covered last week.

It sounds like some county leaders are going as far as threatening to challenge incumbents, regardless of party, as this story in the New York Times suggests:

County officials, however, are threatening to challenge some incumbents to protest a rise in Medicaid costs that they say has made it hard for them to govern, and has left them with the political headache of having to raise local taxes just to cover the costs of paying for health care for their counties' poor.
Medicaid is a federal and state health insurance program for the poor. Last week, in public events around the state, some officials said they would go as far as to try to unseat specific state lawmakers from their counties in an effort to bring in senators and Assembly members who would be sympathetic to their cause.
"No one with any political power has ever challenged the status quo like this before," Mr. Horner said.
Many of these county officials think that politically speaking, they must kill or be killed.
"We cannot handle the property tax burden that is being forced upon us by Medicaid, and we will do whatever it takes to get Medicaid reform," said Thomas R. Suozzi, the Democratic Nassau County executive, who is leading the charge. "Some people, like myself, have said, `I am going to take it to the next step, politically, if we don't get Medicaid reform.' "

Of course, the article also notes that "Albany officials are not exactly shaking with fear." I didn't notice the anti-incumbent message as clearly stated in the press conference county leaders held in Elmira, though it was probably there among the frustration.

Closer to home, a panel of Assembly members spoke to the Ithaca Journal about the prospects of Medicaid reform. The online version seems to be cut off at the end, but I think it still provides a picture of where things are, or aren't. Our Assembly representative, Barbara Lifton, "said she's keeping the county Medicaid issue, and what it means for local property taxpayer issues, in the forefront," but Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried suggests that there's a difficult road ahead, aggravated by the state's fiscal health.

"We in the Assembly have been trying to get the state to pick up the local share of Medicaid for years," he said. "It is familiar ground for us. The problem is trying to find money in the state budget to pick up the share."
Posted by simon at January 15, 2004 8:45 AM in ,
Note on photos