Obama Signs Package To Give States $16B in Medicaid Funds
The House earlier on Tuesday convened for an emergency session and passed the Senate-approved aid package by a 247-161 vote (Montgomery/Anderson, Washington Post, 8/11).
Two Republicans joined all but three Democrats in the vote on the measure (Hulse, New York Times, 8/10).
What the Package Does
Democrats said the state financial aid package, which the Senate approved on Thursday, would help states overcome projected revenue shortfalls and prevent broad layoffs and budget cuts, as nearly 30 states had factored the funding into their budgets for the current or new fiscal years (California Healthline, 8/10).
The 2009 federal economic stimulus package provided states with extra Medicaid funding through the end of 2010. The newly enacted Medicaid funding plan will extend those additional payments for six months.
The payments will be on a sliding scale, starting with a 3.2% increase over the first three months of 2011 and a 1.2% increase in the next three months. The package is fully offset by closing foreign tax credit loopholes, implementing spending cuts, reducing Medicaid drug pricing and ending an increase to food-stamp funding under the 2009 stimulus package (California Healthline, 8/3).
Funds for California
The legislation is expected to send at least $2.5 billion to California. According to H.D. Palmer of the state Department of Finance, $1.2 billion of California's share will go toward schools (Hotakainen, Sacramento Bee, 8/11).
In addition, the state will receive about $1.28 billion for Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program. The amount is less than the $1.8 billion in federal Medicaid assistance that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) relied on in his budget proposal.
Rachel Arrezola, spokesperson for the governor, said Schwarzenegger will continue to work with Congress to obtain additional funding (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 8/10).
Obama, GOP Input
At a White House event on Tuesday morning that was designed to encourage the House to pass the funding package, Obama reiterated that the measure is fully offset, echoing the findings of congressional analysts last week who projected that it would cut more than $1 billion across a decade from the deficit (Lambert, Reuters, 8/10).
During a general floor debate prior to the House vote, Republicans generally decried the measure as Democrats' latest effort to overspend, the New York Times reports.
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said, "We are broke. We do not have the money to bail out the states" (New York Times, 8/10). He added, "Where do the bailouts end? At some point we've got to say, 'Enough is enough'" (Abrams, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 8/11).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.