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Medicaid cost shift to NYC a budget issue, legislator says

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s proposal to shift some state costs for the Medicaid health care system to New York City is one of the last and thorniest issues surrounding the state budget being debated behind closed doors, according to one senior legislator.

The legislator, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of talks, said the Medicaid cost shift to care for city residents remains one of the last big issues going into negotiations Monday afternoon.

Later Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio made clear the urgency of the issue, and his frustration with the lack of a deal.

Officials wouldn’t comment on any specific measure or any sticking points in talks.

“We’re not going to agree to a budget that disproportionately hits NYC,” said Michael Whyland, spokesman for the Assembly’s Democratic majority.

In January, Cuomo proposed that $180 million of Medicaid costs be added to the city’s share of the health care program for the poor. The second full year of the shift under Cuomo’s plan could cost Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration $300 million.

A state budget deal would have to be struck and bills would have to be printed by midnight Monday for a budget to be passed by the April 1 deadline, but Cuomo and legislators could extend negotiations as they have in the past through “messages of necessity” orders.

During the weekend, Cuomo officials retracted his administration’s effort to make the city pay for $485 million more for the City University of New York higher education system. Under the deal, the Cuomo administration is expected to attain its goal of hiring a management efficiency expert to go over CUNY’s books to find costs savings.

“I spoke to the governor this morning and I still don’t have real answers,” de Blasio said Monday. “There’s no budget language. There is no confirmation or guarantees related to CUNY, related to Medicaid or any of these other issues.”

Cuomo “said none of this would cost New York City a penny; I said I would hold him to it — take him at his word, but hold him to it,” de Blasio said. “And I’m still going to hold him to it because as of this moment we have no guarantees and we need them.”

The biggest disputed issue for months has been the push by Cuomo and the Assembly’s Democratic majority for a $15 minimum wage. Several proposals have been floated to get the Senate’s Republican majority on board, including lengthening the wage’s implementation over several years upstate and on Long Island, while enacting the higher minimum wage more quickly in New York City.

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