House returns from recess to vote on extra Medicaid help for states

The House will vote today on a package that includes $16.1 billion in extra federal Medicaid money for states who say they need to close budget gaps.

The Hill: "The unusual August work session was prompted by the Senate's surprise passage last week — after the House had recessed until mid-September — of a $26 billion package of teacher and Medicaid funding for states" (Allen and Berman, 8/9).

McClatchy: "House approval would clear the measure for President Barack Obama to sign into law. Democrats hope that the vote will give the party's candidates a needed jolt of momentum as lawmakers head home for their summer recess before congressional elections in November." In addition to the $16.1 billion that would continue for six months enhanced version of the federal medical assistance percentage [FMAP] for Medicaid, the package has $10 billion to preserve teacher jobs. "The Medicaid money is badly needed, according to an analysis by the National Conference of State Legislatures. The federal and state governments jointly fund the program, and under the 2009 federal stimulus act, Washington was to provide extra aid through Dec. 31." If the legislation is passed, it will give a lower enhanced match through June 2011 (Lightman, 8/9).

The Associated Press: The money would "free up [other] money for states to meet other budget priorities, including keeping more than 150,000 police officers and other public workers on the payroll. Some three-fifths of states have already factored in the federal money in drawing up their budgets for the current fiscal year. The National Governors Association, in a letter to congressional leaders, said the states' estimated budget shortfall for the 2010-12 period is $116 billion, and the extended Medicaid payments are 'the best way to help states bridge the gap between their worst fiscal year and the beginning of recovery'" (Abrams, 8/10).

Roll Call: "while Democrats will talk [during the August recess] about their efforts to save jobs by closing a tax loophole they say helps companies ship jobs overseas, Republicans will charge Democrats with giving states another bailout paid for by a tax increase" (Dennis, 8/10).

The Washington Times: "The dueling messages have been on display in recent days — perhaps providing a sneak preview into the campaign messages the parties will employ this fall in an election that will decide whether Democrats retain control of both chambers of Congress. Rep. Joe Sestak, Pennsylvania Democrat, has hammered his opponent in the coming U.S. Senate race, Republican Pat Toomey, a former three-term congressman, because he voiced opposition to the FMAP and teacher funding package. 'Congressman Toomey's out-of-touch philosophy was on display again yesterday when he publicly opposed deficit-neutral aid to states that would prevent massive layoffs and cuts to essential service,' Mr. Sestak's campaign said in a statement. Toomey spokeswoman Nachama Soloveichik fired back by calling the bill a 'bailout for irresponsible states' that spent recklessly when times were good" (McLaughlin, 8/9).

Politico: Democrats, in the meantime, are facing the reality of the recession -- in order to "save some social programs, they'll have to sacrifice others." The food stamp program is the latest cut. "The food stamp cuts, worth $11.9 billion, wouldn't go into effect until 2014 — meaning Democrats have punted a bit by giving themselves time to restore the funding down the road" (Allen, 8/10).

(Sioux Falls, S.D.) Argus Leader: And at least one governor is questioning whether their state will take the money, . Gov. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., "said he might not take the $49 million South Dakota stands to receive if too many requirements are imposed on the state to maintain certain levels of service after the federal assistance is gone. Rounds is among 47 governors to request the additional Medicaid money because of falling state revenues and a generally lagging economy" (Sneve, 8/10).


http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article is republished with kind permission from our friends at The Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery of in-depth coverage of health policy developments, debates and discussions. The Daily Health Policy Report is published for Kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Copyright 2009 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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