ALBANY -- Andrew Cuomo today opened the door to a new phase of his campaign: criticizing Republican Carl Paladino on the issues.
While the Democrat said he is not going to respond to "childish taunts" from opponents and will avoid "a name-calling campaign," Cuomo went after Paladino and his plans to sharply cut Medicaid spending.
"He talks about cutting the Medicaid program by $20 billion. That would eliminate the Medicaid program in the state of New York. The state spends $20 billion on the Medicaid program, so unless the position is we'll have no senior citizens in nursing homes, that would eliminate the Medicaid program," Cuomo told reporters in a somewhat-rare gaggle at the state Capitol.
The criticism came after a new poll showed the governor's race tightening.
Paladino has, indeed, called for cutting Medicaid by $20 billion. But aides have said the plan envisions $10 billion in state funds, with the rest coming from the resulting savings to the federal government, which pays for roughly half of the health insurance program for elderly, poor and low-income working people.
The Medicaid budget in New York totals about $50 billion, which according to a report this week by Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch, represents about one-third of the state's total budget and is expected to grow by an average of 7 percent a year over the coming years. The $50 billion is paid for by the state, federal government and counties.
Paladino has not specifically outlined all the ways he will cut $10 billion in the state-funded portion of Medicaid.