Coalition Pushes for State Medicaid Funds in Economic Stimulus Plan
A coalition of more than 70 unions, health care organizations and community groups is lobbying Congress to include a temporary increase in the federal medical assistance percentage for Medicaid in an economic stimulus package, CongressDaily reports.
The coalition on Thursday in a letter to House and Senate leaders wrote, "To avert slashing fire, police and education in response to falling property tax revenues, many local governments are now beseeching their states to help fill the gap. But that puts an even greater pressure at the state level on programs like [the State Children's Health Insurance Program] and Medicaid" (Johnson, CongressDaily, 1/25). The letter continued, "As a condition of receiving the enhanced FMAP, states should be barred from reducing Medicaid eligibility as was the case in 2003," when states received fiscal relief. In addition, the coalition wrote that in the last recession, Medicaid cuts "caused one million families and children to be cut off or denied Medicaid" (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 1/25).
Coalition members include:
- The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees;
- The American Hospital Association;
- The American Health Care Association;
- The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now; and
- MoveOn.org (CongressDaily, 1/25).
Republican Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger (Calif.), Tim Pawlenty (Minn.) and Charlie Crist (Fla.) also have asked for the federal government to temporarily increase federal funding for state Medicaid programs (Weisman/Baker, Washington Post, 1/26).
According to CongressDaily, Bush administration and House leaders are hoping to conclude negotiations on the package this week and send it to the floor for a vote (Cohn/Johnson, CongressDaily, 1/28). The package is "the first of what are likely to be several stimulus plans put forward on Capitol Hill in coming months and the one most likely to become law," as items that do not make it into this package "could be taken up in a longer-term stimulus plan," according to the Christian Science Monitor (Russell Chaddock/Scherer, Christian Science Monitor, 1/28).
The Senate Finance Committee on Friday discussed including Medicaid provisions in its version of the legislation (CQ HealthBeat, 1/25). Senate Democrats last week said they would prefer to quickly pass the legislation than to delay it in favor of amendments. The committee will mark up its version of the package this week.
Although "[t]alk has been rampant" about a second bill that would include additional funding for measures not included in the stimulus package, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday "appeared to throw cold water on that idea," according to CongressDaily. She said, "I don't know about any second stimulus plan," despite statements by her office on Thursday that indicated Medicaid funding for states along with other measures could be included in a second bill (CongressDaily, 1/28).