Bush Offers Economic Stimulus Plan with Medicaid Benefits
President Bush on Saturday proposed an economic stimulus plan that would offer Medicaid benefits for unemployed workers, the AP/Miami Herald reports (AP/Miami Herald, 12/2). In his weekly radio address, Bush proposed a plan that would extend unemployment benefits by 13 weeks in the states "hardest hit by terrorism" and would provide states with additional funding to provide Medicaid benefits to unemployed workers (Anderson, Los Angeles Times, 12/2). Democrats said that the plan "does not do enough" to help unemployed workers (AP/Miami Herald, 12/2). Democrats "want to ensure that [unemployed workers] get the unemployment insurance, that they get health care," Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" (NBC, "Meet the Press," 12/2). Earlier this month, Senate Democrats proposed a bill, blocked by Senate Republicans, that would have provided $14.3 billion to extend benefits for unemployed workers by 13 weeks and $12.3 billion to help unemployed workers purchase health coverage through COBRA. COBRA, the 1986 Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, allows unemployed workers to retain health coverage under their former employers' insurance plans by paying 102% of the premiums. In addition, the legislation would have allowed states to extend Medicaid coverage to unemployed workers who do not qualify for COBRA and provided $1.4 billion to boost the federal match to states for Medicaid (California Healthline, 11/15). Democrats also "attacked" a bill passed by House Republicans (AP/Miami Herald, 12/2). The House in October approved a $100 billion GOP-sponsored bill, supported by Bush, that would increase by $3 billion funding for the Social Services Block Grant program to allow states to provide health insurance to unemployed workers and their families (California Healthline, 10/29).