WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney says she’s willing to change her opposition to a Republican plan for replacing Obamacare if Congress approves an amendment ending the Medicaid burden on New York’s counties.
Tenney, R-New Hartford, said last week she was “learning toward voting no” on the GOP’s repeal and replacement bill because the American Health Care Act was bad for New York.
But the first-term House member said today she would vote for the replacement bill if it includes an amendment by Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, of Western New York. The amendment would allow New York counties to stop contributing a local share of Medicaid costs.
The amendment by Collins, R-Clarence, would force New York to pick up about $2.3 billion in Medicaid costs now paid by county governments.
Under a cost-sharing deal in New York, counties pay about 13 percent of the costs as their local share. The federal government and New York state pay the remaining costs.
Tenney said the county share of Medicaid is significant in Upstate New York, where she represents all or part of eight counties.
In Oneida County, for example, the county’s Medicaid costs account for more than 80 percent of the county’s total tax levy. In Oswego County, Medicaid accounts for more than 44 percent of the tax levy.
“No other state in the country abuses its local governments and taxpayers quite like Albany to fund an expansive Medicaid program,” Tenney said at a press conference today.
She said New York burdens its counties with more Medicaid responsibility than any other state.
It was not clear Monday afternoon if the Collins amendment would gain favor among House members from other states before Thursday’s planned vote the GOP health care bill.
Hannah Andrews, a spokeswoman for Tenney, said some members of the New York congressional delegation raised the issue with the GOP House leadership in a private meeting last week.
New York state officials have pushed back against Collins, noting that his amendment could force the state to raise income taxes. Counties could also be required to forego their share of sales tax in exchange for the state picking up the additional Medicaid costs.
Regardless of the shift in Medicaid costs, the GOP healthcare plan would leave 1 million New York residents without health insurance and transfer $4.5 billion in costs from the federal government to state taxpayers, according to state officials.
Hospitals in Upstate New York would also take a big hit to their budgets, which depend on Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements more than those in other states that have not expanded their coverage under Obamacare.
U.S. Rep. John Katko, a Republican whose district borders Tenney’s in Central New York, reiterated today he is solidly opposed to the GOP replacement bill.
Katko, R-Camillus, said the Collins amendment sounds like a good idea, but he warned that it could ultimately result in big budget problems for New York.
“New York is one of the few states where they push off a percentage of their Medicaid costs to the counties,” Katko told syracuse.com today in a Facebook Live interview today.
But he added, “Short-term it’s a good idea…But long-term I’m concerned about how the state would make up for the budget gaps, because for New York state it would be several billion dollars.”
March 20, 2017