Resolution Near on Agreement With Federal Government for Additional Medicaid Funds
An agreement to increase federal Medicaid funds for California "could be ready for signing" by Thursday, when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and state legislative leaders plan to travel to Washington, D.C., for a meeting with the state congressional delegation, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Under the proposed five-year agreement, California could receive an additional $220 million annually in federal Medicaid funds for hospitals, according to Stan Rosenstein, deputy director of medical services for the Department of Health Services. Rosenstein said that state and federal officials are "working very hard" on the agreement.
Rachael Kagan, a spokesperson for the California Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems, said that the agreement could require the state to make the additional federal Medicaid funds available to more health care providers and that because the five-year term, the agreement might not provide adequate funds to treat uninsured state residents in the event that the number increases.
Kagan said, "It's difficult to see how this arrangement stabilizes the safety net and provides increased support for public hospitals" (Whitney , Sacramento Bee, 2/14).
Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata (D-Oakland), Senate Minority Leader Dick Ackerman (R-Fullerton), Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles) and Assembly Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) will attend the meeting with Schwarzenegger (Whitney , Sacramento Bee, 2/14).
In related news, the Bee reports that the allocation of federal Medicaid funds "demonstrates one of the reasons many think California gets cheated under federal grant formulas."
Tim Ransdell, executive director of the California Institute for Federal Policy Research, said that California receives less in federal Medicaid funds than other states in part because the federal allocation formula is based on per capita incomes rather than the number of low-income state residents.
According to the Bee, although many California residents have high incomes, the state poverty rate also "is higher than average." California currently has to match federal Medicaid funds at a rate of 50 cents per dollar.
Ransdell said, "If the Medicaid formula were based on poverty, California would be at the 58% or 59% reimbursement level," adding, "That would amount to $4 billion plus for the state each year" (Whitney , Sacramento Bee, 2/14).
California currently pays about $50 billion more in federal taxes annually than the state receives in federal grants, contracts and other funds, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Coile/Martin, San Francisco Chronicle, 2/13).