Penn. Gov.: Congress Not Likely To Extend State Medicaid Funding
On Thursday, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) said he believes there is less than a 50% chance that Congress will approve legislation to provide states with fresh federal Medicaid funding before the current assistance package runs out, Bloomberg Businessweek reports.
During a Bloomberg television interview, Rendell described lawmakers' failure to extend the Medicaid funding as a "disaster" for states and said that he has discussed the issue with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) (McNichol/Selway, Bloomberg Businessweek, 7/15).
Funding Part of Stimulus
The 2009 federal economic stimulus package provided states with extra Medicaid funding through the end of 2010, and lawmakers initially aimed to extend the assistance through mid-2011 by including the funds in the "extenders" bill (HR 4213).
However, that bill has languished in the Senate (California Healthline, 7/13).
Several governors have warned Congress that failing to approve the $11.6 billion in extra Medicaid assistance could result in large spending cuts to state health, education and safety programs, as many states had accounted for the funds in their annual budgets.
More than 200,000 government jobs could be eliminated, according to Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics.
Regan Lachapelle, a spokesperson for Reid, noted that the Medicaid extension proposal has been removed from the "extenders" bill that might be considered next week (Bloomberg Businessweek, 7/15).
Concerns About Impact on Medicaid Expansion
Several state Medicaid officials and health policy experts also are warning that failing to extend the added Medicaid funds could hurt the Medicaid expansion under the new health reform law, CongressDaily reports (McCarthy, CongressDaily, 7/16).
Alan Weil, executive director of the National Academy for State Health Policy, said states will have difficulty planning for a Medicaid expansion because of the uncertainty over the new Medicaid funds.
"The newly eligible enrollees will be 100% federally funded, and in theory this sounds like something states can handle," Weil said, adding, "But in reality, with states running scaled down programs, they can't change gears that quickly."Vernon Smith, a Medicaid expert at Health Management Associates, said that other budgetary constraints are affecting states' Medicaid programs. He noted that each state has a stake in the success of health care reform (CongressDaily, 7/16). 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.