Chautauqua County Government could be hit with a $4.3 million shortfall this year should New York State move forward with clawing back Medicaid funds.
The Enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Program (E-FMAP) funds are monies from the federal government to New York State that are meant to go to local counties, but Governor Kathy Hochul‘s proposed budget holds onto those monies.
County Executive PJ Wendel said if this stays in the budget, it would put counties back 20 years. He said the idea of the state holding onto E-FMAP monies isn’t new and that former Governor Andrew Cuomo had proposed doing the same in the past, “But the Budget Director, who was the Budget Director under Governor Cuomo, Robert Mujica; we were told kind of slipped this in without the Governor’s (Hochul) knowledge. Well, we all said this on a meeting last week, if anybody slipped anything into our budget without our knowledge they probably wouldn’t be working for us. This person has since left, so there’s a vacant position for.. I think there’s an Acting Budget Director now. So the Budget Director position is really vacant so we’re going after a ghost.”
Wendel said the claw back of funds is going into the state’s fund balance and not designated for any specific program.
He said he learned this week that the state is also behind on Medicaid reimbursements to counties to the tune of $8 million for Chautauqua County alone.
Should the Medicaid claw back continue to be part of the state budget when it’s passed April 1, Wendel said the $4.3 million that Chautauqua County would lose in funding is a large portion of the budget, “As you know, we have a very favorable fund balance. This year we did use $4 million in capital projects. So, I’d hate to cancel any of those capital projects cause they are necessary and sometimes, it’s most often times, deferred maintenance and stuff we’re putting off. We do have the ability right now to cover that, but why is it that we are being punished for being fiscally prudent when the Governor can’t seem to get their budget under control?”
Wendel added the New York State Association of Counties, which he is a member of and sits on the board of directors, is working to negotiate with Hochul’s office on this item. He said he hopes those who have pull with Hochul, like Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, can sway her to pull this out of the budget. Wendel said he doesn’t believe the State Legislature has any say over the budget item and that it’s at the Governor’s discretion.