Sebelius Turns Political Tables On GOP Governors On Medicaid; Program's Expansion Will Help Homeless

Kaiser Health News: "Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius this week sent a letter to all of America's governors telling them that if they want to continue receiving the enhanced Medicaid funds that Congress approved last week that they have to ask for the money. ... The higher matching rate was originally slated to expire at the end of 2010, but lawmakers interrupted their August recess to approve an extension of enhanced funds, albeit at a lower rate, through June 2011. … By telling governors they have until Sept. 24 to ask for the funds, Sebelius is forcing the hands of these officials, particularly those Republicans who have been vocal about their distaste for additional deficit spending." KHN also includes text of the letter (Villegas, 8/19).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: "At stake in Minnesota is $263 million for low-income and elderly Medicaid patients and health care providers who participate in the joint federal and state program. [Republican Gov. Tim] Pawlenty, eyeing a run for the White House in 2012, said Thursday in an interview with the Star Tribune that he has not decided what to do" (Diaz and Yee, 8/19).

Meanwhile, Kaiser Health News / The Washington Post reports on new options for homeless people, many of whom are uninsured and ineligible for Medicaid: "That will change beginning in 2014, when Medicaid greatly expands under the new health care law to include adults without children, who generally have been excluded. … The Medicaid expansion also will help the homeless by enabling agencies that serve them to divert resources now spent on medical care to other services such as finding housing and jobs. The new law provides another boost through a 5-year, $11 billion expansion of the community health center system that treats many in this population."

"[But] locating and enrolling homeless people in Medicaid will be a challenge. Many also suffer from chronic, complex medical conditions, including mental illness and addiction. Low reimbursement rates for some services may lead to problems with access to care" (Carey and Villegas, 8/20).

A related KHN video shows how the center Healthcare for the Homeless in Baltimore could be affected by the changes.

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