Greg Edwards, Republican candidate for county executive, Tuesday unveiled what he called an "action plan" to control Medicaid costs in Chautauqua County.
Under the plan, a Medicaid commissioner would be appointed to serve under the county executive and commissioner of the Department of Social Services.
"That person is to deliver in six months a plan prioritizing those Medicaid services and costs that will be addressed and how they will be addressed," he said. "Time lines for completion and implementation for specific action will be part of that plan. This process will then be the basis for Medicaid waivers to be requested from the state."
Edwards said the Medicaid cost burden has not been addressed on either the state or local level by the "soft cap" -- which "partially shifted" the tax burden of Medicaid to the state. This he likened to "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic."
Edwards accuses his opponent, incumbent Chautauqua County Mark Thomas, of doing little to ease the burden.
"There has been no systemic analysis of our Medicaid program, no local changes of any consequence and no waivers requested," he said.
Thomas, meanwhile, accused Edwards of speaking "without investigating the facts" about a program "that has cost county taxpayers over $100 million in the last four years alone."
"This cavalier criticism without offering real solutions shows his lack of preparation for the job he seeks."
"The historic Medicaid cap is the first and most important step to tax savings for Chautauqua County residents," he said. "Over the last three years when this county was being crushed by double-digit increases in Medicaid costs, I told taxpayers that my work in Albany and across the state to gain real Medicaid reform would result in tax relief. I have held firm on this and last Friday I announced real property and sales tax cuts for 2006, tied to Medicaid savings"