Medi-Cal Funding Differs by $1.5B in House, Senate Stimulus Bills
The House economic stimulus bill earmarks $1.5 billion more in Medicaid funding for California than the Senate version of the bill, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The House's version, approved last week, allocates $11.1 billion for the state's Medi-Cal program, according to the Washington-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The Senate measure would provide about $9.6 billion in Medi-Cal funding.
Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
The House bill gives more money to states whose unemployment rates have increased significantly. California, with a December unemployment rate of 9.3%, would be in the top tier of recipients.
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills), who chaired the committee that wrote the bill, said the House "took an approach that recognizes that in the current recession, all states need some help, but some need more help than others,"Â adding, "It is only fair that the hardest-hit states with high unemployment receive more assistance than those with low unemployment."
Some senators in smaller states argue that the House economic stimulus package is unfair to their constituents, the Times reports.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said, "The [House] legislation is biased to big states."
Anthony Wright, executive director of the Sacramento-based not-for-profit Health Access California, said the Senate bill does not take into account states' economic environments.
He said, "A formula that targets the economic climate of a state would put [California] at an advantage," adding, "The Senate is de-emphasizing that kind of targeting."
Wright said, "The Senate version would fall short of meeting even our basic needs in this tough time."
Prospects for Final Bill
H.D. Palmer, spokesperson for the California Department of Finance, said he is hopeful that California's interests will be met during House-Senate negotiations on a final bill.
He said, "Without question, there will be California delegation members who will be sitting as members of the conference committee, and we'll be working very closely with them, because that's where this issue is going to get resolved" (Simon/Halper, Los Angeles Times, 1/31).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.