WATERLOO — Seneca County pays more than $111,000 per week for its share of the federal Medicaid program. That equals about 60 percent of the county’s 2018 tax levy, according to Board of Supervisors Chairman Bob Shipley.

Speaking at the March 13 board meeting, Shipley, R-Waterloo, cited the Assembly Minority Conference March 12 unveiling of a plan to restructure Medicaid with a phased-in, 10-year state takeover of the local share of it.

Medicaid is a federally mandated health care program for the poor and disabled where the federal government pays 50 percent of the cost to run the program and states pay the other 50 percent. In New York, the state pays 25 percent and the counties pay 25 percent to make up the local share.

“New York state, over the years, has greatly expanded the program package of services such that the total Medicaid yearly program costs now exceeds $8.2 billion a year, the largest Medicaid program in the country,” Shipley said.

The Republican minority proposal would have the state take over the entire local share or 50 percent of the total, phased in over 10 years.

“I am constantly reminded by local residents about the high property tax rates and asked what does Seneca County do with all of that property tax money,” Shipley said. “My usual response is that our current Medicaid payment to Albany is $111,958 per week.”

Shipley said he is encouraged by the Minority Conference proposal but remains skeptical that it will be enacted. He said he’s not convinced “our dysfunctional state government can or will pass any meaningful legislation as part of the yearly state budget process.”

“My apologies to our local representatives,” he said, “but their participation in the Gov. Cuomo-controlled state budget process of ‘three downstate men in a room’ seems to be only that of observers and lack the critical component of real budget negotiation partners.

“The Minority Assembly Conference has little chance to reduce Albany’s unfunded mandates and is unlikely to pass any needed Medicaid reform program to offer any significant cost savings to local counties.”

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, R-131 of Canandaigua, and other GOP Assembly members have unveiled the phased-in state takeover of the local share of Medicaid.

New York pays $72.1 billion a year for Medicaid and is one of only 18 states that require counties to cover some of the non-federal costs of Medicaid.

“New York’s Medicaid program is the second most costly in the nation behind California, a state with more than double the amount of enrollees,” Kolb said. “Simply put, we can no longer sit by and watch New York take ownership of another ‘worse of’ label. Continuing to force localities to pay massive Medicaid costs leads to higher property taxes and punishes taxpayers, homeowners and businesses alike.”

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