As Congress gets set to break, a bipartisan group of Governors have joined together to ask Congress and the Obama Administration for an extension of the Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentages funding. The Governors say that without the extension, their states may be forced to make harsh cuts to already slashed budgets. As of now, the funding extension is still awaiting approval.
The ten Governors calling for the extension represent states of all sizes, from all regions of the US and both political parties. According to their statements, state budgets across the country are already cut so far that without an extension they may be forced to consider mass layoffs and other extreme measures. Medicaid costs, they say, are not a political issue but rather significant fiscal and economic issue that must be dealt with immediately.
The extension requested is on a temporary 6.2 % raise in federal Medicaid payments outlined in the stimulus package; the raise was larger in some states with very high unemployment. The funds haven’t come in yet and nearly 30 states assumed the funds when they passed their budgets. This has left some states scrambling to make up the gaps while still others have started cutting.
Medicaid makes up such a significant part of budgets, that without the funds many high priority programs are likely to face significant cuts. Last week, CivSource reported on the overall dire picture facing states when it comes to Medicaid funding. Without this money, things are only expected to get worse faster. Medicaid rolls have seen significant increases as the recession takes its toll, a figure that is only expected to get larger with the measures passed under health care reform.
The Senate may consider a bill after the Independence Day recess that would pass a six month extension on to the states. However, that may not be long enough for states with low revenues and high unemployment. The timing may be off as well, if Congress waits to take up the bill until after the holiday states may be forced into making cuts ahead of any new extensions. Both the House and the Senate have approved Medicaid funds twice before.