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Medicaid growth and resultant tax increases are causing havoc to all of New York State. The only solutions proposed are to raise taxes. The fragile economy is headed for a downward spiral unless something is done. More taxes means less spendable income. County Executive Joel Giambra is to be commended for sounding the alarm.

I propose a five-year plan. The sales tax is increased by 1 percent, combined with a property tax hike in the low single digits. Each year, the state takes over 20 percent of the county Medicaid bill and the sales tax goes down 0.2 percent. At the end of five years, the state owns Medicaid and our sales tax is back to the current level.

During these five years, the state has breathing space to produce a less costly and more efficient Medicaid program. I would also suggest that the nursing home portion of Medicaid be a separate entity. Too many people are using loopholes and not paying their fair share. There are also private payers who are paying too much. Nursing home long-term care should be encouraged and our federal representatives should strive for realistic tax credits.

The problem can be fixed, but our state and federal representatives have to realize we have a disaster looming and get creative.

John H. Eberle

Volunteer nursing home ombudsman