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Medicaid savings may be less than expected

By James Shea

Times-News Staff Writer

Henderson County officials are concerned that promised relief from Medicaid costs may be wiped out by a loss of state sales tax revenue.

Henderson County budgeted $5.2 million for Medicaid in the current budget. The North Carolina Association of County Commissioners has aggressively lobbied the Legislature for Medicaid relief, as North Carolina became the last state in the U.S. to require counties to pick up part of the Medicaid cost.

The Legislature agreed during its session this year to phase out county Medicaid expenses.

"There was a tradeoff," County Manager Steve Wyatt said.

The exact savings to the county are somewhat in dispute, County Finance Director Carey McLelland told commissioners. He said the state is using money that the county had already set to receive without Medicaid relief, and the estimates are therefore inflated.

The phased plan begins Oct. 1. In the first year, based on 2005 numbers, the county will receive approximately $869,493 for a 25 percent Medicaid savings. In exchange, the county must give up 60 percent of the money it receives for school construction, or $476,790. That gives the county a net savings of $392,703.

Under the bill, however, the county will always receive a minimum of $500,000 in Medicaid savings. So, the county would get an additional $107,297 from the state. (more…)

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