KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Governors Urge Congress To Extend Emergency Medicaid Funds

At a press conference in Washington Wednesday, "10 governors said they had already cut millions from their budgets since the recession hit at the end of 2007, and that if the funds were not approved in coming weeks they would have to slash funding for services like hospice care or preschool programs," Reuters reports. "Last year's economic stimulus plan raised federal payments to states by 6.2 percent with extra money for those with especially high unemployment. States had asked for a six-month extension of the aid, at a cost of about $24 billion. During negotiations last week, the Senate weighed continuing the aid through June 2011, but gradually lowering the amount" (Lentz, 6/30).

Stateline: "The matter is particularly pressing for 28 states that already have approved budgets for the fiscal year that begins today assuming the aid will come. Virginia already has had to make budget cuts to make up for the fact that the expected Medicaid dollars haven't shown up yet. That scenario will likely spread to many more states if Congress does not pass the aid extension. The governors discussed how much money is at stake in their states" (Grovum, 7/1).

The Washington Post: "With Medicaid and education comprising the lion's share of state budgets, the cuts are likely to hit key programs. Since the recession began, states have experienced sharp increases in their Medicaid rolls, which are projected to grow by 21 percent between 2009 and the next fiscal year, which begins July 1 for 46 states. Some states have responded by reducing some reimbursement rates for health-care providers and curtailing some services, although they are prevented from limiting eligibility by the new health-care law. In education, more than 100,000 teaching jobs could be on the chopping block" (Fletcher, 7/1).

Kaiser Health News interviewed Gov. Mark Parkinson, D-Kan., on what the loss of funds would mean in Kansas, where $130 million is at stake. KHN has audio of the interview as well (Gold, 6/30).

Also on Wednesday, Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., "announced his intention to introduce a bill offering states enhanced federal Medicaid funding, called FMAP, along with unemployment and summer jobs assistance. The bill would be paid for with unspent and unobligated funds from last year's recovery act and other offsets," The Hill reports. "Brown last week voted against the tax extenders bill that included those measures in part because it wasn't fully paid for" (Pecquet, 6/30). 

Congress Daily: Meanwhile, "[t]he Senate might consider a stand-alone bill that would extend federal Medicaid assistance to states for an additional six months after the Independence Day recess, after the funding provision stalled along with a larger tax bill last week. 'It's likely,' said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., on the possibility that a bill with the federal medical assistance percentage funding would be introduced this month. 'There are many iterations being looked at'" (McCarthy, 7/1).

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