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County Executive Would Welcome Medicaid Relief in Economic Stimulus Package

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – US Senator Charles Schumer says he is pushing for additional federal funds to offer upstate New York counties some very needed Medicaid relief.

Under the proposed economic stimulus package, Schumer is seeking to help counties struggling with Medicaid costs. In Western New York, counties are expected to shell out more than $300 million in 2009 for Medicaid. But if federal dollars are provided, Erie County could get about $45 million over two years.

County Executive Chris Collins says the county pays $4 million a week in Medicaid to the state. It is taken directly out of the county sales tax receipts. But Collins says with some federal relief, it would free up some sales tax revenues.

Collins says freeing up $500,000 a week in the county's cash flow would prevent drastic measures to save money this year.

Right now the county is dealing with a cash flow issue. Collins says January is a tough month as they await tax receipts. Complicating the situation is that the tax bill mailing to county property owners remains on hold as the Legislature and County Executive are in a dispute over the tax rate.

Collins says if the county gets a ruling at a Monday court hearing, the tax bills will be mailed out. Property taxes are due by February 15th.

Click the audio player above to hear Eileen Buckley's story now or use your podcasting software to download it to your computer or iPod.