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Local officials feel like scapegoat in Medicaid system that is designed by New York State

An official in Wayne County says counties across New York are being made the scapegoat of inflated Medicaid costs.

Governor Andrew Cuomo noted a $4 billion shortfall in the Medicaid portion of the state budget.

Meanwhile, Wayne County Administrator Rick House says the state has simply pointed blame at them, rather than looking at Albany’s policies that created the shortfall.

“We’re irate about this,” County Administrator Rick House said Monday to the Finger Lakes Times. He was joined in that conversation by Social Services Commissioner Ellen Wayne, County Treasurer Patrick Schmitt and County Fiscal Assistant and Deputy Budget Officer Ken Blake.

House says the problem is that New York State is claiming that counties aren’t doing enough to control costs.

State Budget Director Robert Mujica recently wrote an opinion piece calling out counties for having a “blank check” mentality when it comes to Medicaid.

The proposed solution means forcing counties to stay under the 3 percent budgeted increase, which the state will cover – assuming counties also stay below the 3 percent tax cap.

If that happens – counties will be on the hook.

“Albany is driving the bus and we’re the passengers,” House said. “It goes over the cliff and all of a sudden they’re blaming the passengers for the bus going over the cliff.”

Officials aren’t sure what they can do differently. “We’re just abiding by the program,” officials said in Wayne County. “We don’t set the income limits; we don’t set the rate structure; we don’t set the level of care.”

Counties don’t even have the power to locally assess individual situations. They are simply doing the government’s bidding, and thereby passing the price tag of their own plans in the process.