NORWICH – The number of Medicaid recipients in Chenango County has doubled over the past decade, according to a report by the Department of Social Services Commissioner, Bette Osborne.
When comparing caseloads from 2008 to 2009, the numbers receiving emergency services, food stamps and cash assistance were also up, from about 13 to 20 percent.
Osborne presented those statistics and more on Monday as part of her 2009 annual report to the Chenango County Board of Supervisors. She said the numbers of caseloads were the most she has seen in 17 years on the job.
The stressful economy has resulted in more volatile newcomers to DSS offices at the County Office Building. Osborne said the Norwich City Police have been called to the site more often than in the past.
“New clients are angry to be there. They are humiliated. They aren’t used to filling out 12-page applications,” she said.
With the cost for Social Services programs absorbing nearly 50 percent of the county’s $80.8 million budget for this year, other sectors such as economic development, culture and recreation, and home and community services are falling out of the pie.
“We are getting further, and further away from helping people solve local problems,” said Finance Committee Vice Chairman Dennis Brown, D-Pharsalia.
The supervisor from Coventry, Republican John Phelan, noted the number of Medicaid cases would increase even further with the nation’s new health care package.