Schwarzenegger Pushes for More Federal Funds During Meetings in D.C.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and state legislative leaders are in Washington, D.C., this week to lobby for increased federal funding for health care and other programs, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The governor's budget plan includes a request for $6.9 billion in new federal funds. If the state does not secure the federal aid, Schwarzenegger has proposed eliminating programs such as In-Home Supportive Services and Healthy Families, California's Children's Health Insurance Program (Buchanan, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/20).
The governor also is calling for a change to federal formulas that he claims burden the state with unfair costs for Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program.
Currently, the federal government provides a dollar-for-dollar match for Medi-Cal. Schwarzenegger is pushing for federal officials to increase their share to 57% of Medi-Cal's cost, which he said would reduce state spending by $1.8 billion per year (AP/Stockton Record, 1/20).
Accompanying the governor on his trip to Washington are:
- Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles);
- Assembly Minority Leader Sam Blakeslee (R-San Luis Obispo);
- Senate Minority Leader Dennis Hollingsworth (R-Murrieta); and
- Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento).
Meetings With Sens. Boxer, Feinstein
On Wednesday, Schwarzenegger and the legislative leaders met with Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to petition for more federal funds (Collins, Ventura County Star, 1/20).
Boxer said California's congressional delegation already is working on some of the governor's requests, such as the increase in federal funding for Medi-Cal.
However, Boxer said the extra funds likely would come from a package designed to benefit all states, not California specifically.
For example, Congress currently is considering a measure that would extend a temporary increase in federal matching funds for state Medicaid programs by several months. The initial Medicaid boost was part of the 2009 federal economic stimulus package (AP/Stockton Record, 1/20).
Boxer also noted that California is slated to receive an additional $50 billion from last year's stimulus package. The senator said she is organizing a work group to determine whether California could use the stimulus funds to help offset its budget deficit.
Meeting With HHS Secretary Sebelius
Also on Wednesday, Schwarzenegger and state leaders met with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to discuss their concerns with current Medicaid formulas.
Although Sebelius did not promise to change the Medicaid calculations, she said she would consider the issue, according to Bass and Steinberg (Ventura County Star, 1/20).
Following the meeting, Steinberg said he believed California might be able to secure $2 billion to $3 billion in new funding from the federal government.
The money likely would come from a temporary boost to Medi-Cal and a federal reimbursement of $700 million that the state spent on health care for people covered under Medicare.
Today, Schwarzenegger and the state legislators are scheduled to continue their quest for more federal funds during meetings with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other members of California's congressional delegation (Zapler, San Jose Mercury News, 1/20).
On Wednesday, KPCC's "KPCC News" covered Schwarzenegger's efforts to pressure federal policymakers to direct more funds to California. The segment includes comments from:
- Boxer; and
- Schwarzenegger (Felde, "KPCC News," KPCC, 1/20).