Medicaid Funds May Not Come Through, Leaving States In A Lurch

If increased federal support for Medicaid isn't extended, states will have to fill budget holes next year that many legislatures have not anticipated.

Health News Florida: "Extra Medicaid funding worth $1 billion to Florida is in jeopardy following a defeat in the U.S. Senate Wednesday on a procedural vote of 52 to 45, with all Republicans and 12 Democrats in opposition. The vote was also a setback for an extension of some unemployment benefits and the so-called "doc fix," which would prevent sharp cuts in Medicare physician pay" (Saunders, 6/17).

The Associated Press: A congressional impasse over a new economic stimulus package threatens to punch a $130 million hole in Kansas' budget, only weeks after state legislators raised taxes to keep it balanced. The impasse also bubbled as a political issue Thursday. Kansas' Sam Brownback has joined fellow Republicans in the U.S. Senate in opposing legislation backed by President Barack Obama and other Democrats. Brownback is the leading GOP candidate for governor, and presumed Democratic nominee Tom Holland criticized him" (Hanna, 6/17).

WVIR/NBC in Charlottesville, Va: "The millions of dollars of federal Medicaid money supposed to help ease the burden of state funding cuts might not come through after all. It means deep reductions are on the way for doctors, hospitals and nursing homes. [Virginia] lawmakers and Medicaid providers knew this could be a possibility way back in March when the General Assembly passed the budget. Even though legislators did not count on the cash [in drafting next year's budget], losing it is not the result anyone wanted" (Rhew, 6/17).

The Richmond Times Dispatch: "Gov. Bob McDonnell is prepared to shift dollars within Virginia's budget to shield a health-care program for the poor from further cuts. 'Language in the budget authorizes the governor to transfer money from the second year to the first year in response to federal mandates,' said McDonnell spokesman J. Tucker Martin. Virginia had anticipated more than $400 million for Medicaid under a six-month extension of the Federal Medical Assistance Percentages. But the money is in limbo because Congress has yet to agree on an extension" (Shapiro, 6/17).

Meanwhile, some states are also concerned about plans to expand Medicaid as part of the health overhaul.

The Columbus Dispatch: "The sharp Medicaid expansion under the new federal health-care law will cost Ohio taxpayers $1.45 billion from 2014 through 2019, according to projections released to The Dispatch today by the state. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services estimates that Medicaid -- which currently insures nearly 2.1 million poor and disabled Ohioans -- will grow by 554,000 people beginning in the 2014 fiscal year. Half of the new enrollees are already eligible for coverage but not enrolled and expected to sign up during a renewed marketing effort, state officials say. ... GOP lawmakers have argued that the state -- which faces an $8 billion shortfall in its next two-year budget -- cannot afford another $500 million per-biennium price tag. But supporters, including Gov. Ted Strickland, argue that the state is getting a good deal. The federal government is covering most of the cost -- $16 billion over the first six years -- and having more Ohioans insured will bring savings across the health-care system, said Strickland spokeswoman Amanda Wurst" (Candisky, 6/17).

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