Immediate Release

 For Information Contact:

Thursday, March 3, 2020

Brian Adey

Leaders From Around State Join Griffo
To Call for State Action to Cap Medicaid

             Oneida County Executive Joseph A. Griffo today issued this statement in response to the Wednesday, March 2, Cap Medicaid Now rally in Utica.

           “What this rally showed is that Medicaid is causing tremendous hardship to taxpayers everywhere in New York State. The pain is so great that it can no longer be ignored, and we are working together to make sure it is not ignored,” Griffo said.

County executives from other areas of the state joined Griffo.

Erie County Executive Joel Giambra said state leaders need to "get real about Medicaid reform.”

“We have to get the message through to Albany that this unfunded mandate is destroying our ability to provide jobs and keep our children here," Giambra said.

"If this (capping Medicaid) doesn't happen, the cost to county governments is going to continue to grow, and we are going to tax people and businesses right out of this state," Chautauqua County Executive Mark Thomas said.

            “The State Legislature has begun to focus on the need to address the Medicaid crisis. Words are not enough, property taxpayers need more substantial relief, and soon. Medicaid relief must be a part of this year’s State budget,” said Albany County Executive Michael Breslin.

             Oneida County’s rally, which included participation by Kathleen Kellogg, chair of the Chamber Alliance of the Mohawk Valley; Troy Finn, president of the Oneida County Farm Bureau, followed a similar rally in Syracuse. Both rallies were supported by the New York State Business Council and New York Farm Bureau.

“Unfunded mandates like Medicaid handed down to counties from Albany have resulted in skyrocketing property taxes on our farms,” said Farm Bureau president John Lincoln, a dairy farmer from Bloomfield. “Due to the nature of our businesses, farmers are required to own a large amount of land and therefore pay a disproportionate amount of these taxes. It’s a burden on our farms that dramatically affects our bottom line. We seek relief from these costs this year.”

“New York’s state and county taxpayers pay more to support Medicaid than any other state’s taxpayers, by far, and the burden helps explain our lackluster growth in jobs and population,” said Ed Reinfurt, vice president of The Business Council. "State lawmakers must reduce spending on this program to give relief to our counties, their taxpayers, and New York’s business climate. And we know we can do this without undermining our commitment to quality health care for the poor.”  

           “We cannot go on funding this program on the backs of those least able to bear the burden – the people who pay county property and sales taxes that have been raised to meet this crushing, unfair and ever-growing burden,” Griffo said. “The $63 million Oneida County will spend this year on Medicaid is money that could fund economic development, libraries, cultural organizations or public safety. Or best of all, it could remain in taxpayers’ pockets, where it belongs. But Albany commands us to tax our residents just to fund a program over which we have no control. That’s wrong.”

Griffo said the burdens of Medicaid and the dire need for reform created the need for unity at the county level.

“Every government has challenges. But the reason counties are united is that this program has become the anchor around our necks that is dragging us down to the bottom as we drown in a sea of mandated costs,” Griffo said. “It’s an unfair system that needs to be changed now. Medicaid costs are rising at a rate of 14.5% a year. Fixing the problem two years from now just forces county taxpayers to pay even more, when the truth is that they are already paying far too steep a price for 20 years of Albany’s dysfunctional gridlock and its inability to cut the costs of Medicaid. Our taxpayers need a solution that caps spending at current levels so we can hold down taxes.”

“New York has to choose between the reform of Medicaid and the ruin of our taxpayers,” Griffo said. “To me, that’s no choice. Cap Medicaid now.”