Cortland County Supporting State Legislation to Restore Medicaid Funds For Local Bus Service
Friday, March 14, 2014
Cortland County Supporting State Legislation to Restore Medicaid Funds For Local Bus Service
Cortland County lawmakers are joining a chorus of counties asking the state to allow them to opt out of Medicaid brokerage firm that is jeapordizing the future of local public transit systems. 
Cortland along with other counties like neighboring Tioga County are facing mounting losses in the local bus system due the loss of Medicaid revenue that has historically off set the cost of providing public transit.
The funding loss occurred last year when the State Department of Health changed the way it provides transportation for Medicaid recipients, the department moved to contract with a private vendor to manage the transportation of those individuals. The vendor is now using taxicabs to provide transportation to a majority of Medicaid recipients instead of using the bus system.
As a result the Cortland based  bus service has lost over $400 thousand dollars in operating funds. The loss is placing the future of the bus service in jeopardy and is forcing local leaders to scramble to look for ways to fill the funding gap.
Lawmakers are now asking the State Legislature to step in and allow counties to opt out of the brokerage firm and allow those Medicaid dollars to be used to support the local busses.
That was County Planning Director Dan Dineen who oversees the local public transit system. Dineen says the brokerage firm has been successful in more urban areas where multiple transit options exist.
While they ask the state for help, Dineen and other interested agencies are actively working to find money to support the bus system. They are negotiating with outside private companies to provide funding to keep the busses on the road. 
Dineen would not say what business or institutions the County is in discussions with dud to ongoing negotiations.
The newsroom asked Dineen if a fare increase is in the works, he said raising fares will not solve the issue and may only serve to further undermine ridership.
Lawmakers will vote on the opt out resolution at the end of the month.
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