Temporary Medicaid Payment Increase Could Be Included In Senate Economic Stimulus Package

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Medicaid Payment

Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) onThursday said a temporary funding increase for states' Medicaid programs couldbe included in the Senate's version of an economic stimulus package, CQ HealthBeat reports. However, according to CQHealthBeat, "the signs are multiplying that congressional leadersview the increases as a secondary priority at best." Baucus said,"Medicaid is also on the table, but it's not as high up."

A tentative agreement on a stimulus package reached by the House and the Bushadministration does not include Medicaid funding. Senate Majority Leader HarryReid (D-Nev.) said, "I expect that the (Finance) committee and othersenators will work to improve the House package by adding funds for other initiativesthat can boost the economy immediately, such as unemployment benefits,nutrition assistance, state relief and infrastructure investment"(Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 1/24).

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that she is not "totallypleased" with the House package and added that lawmakers should passadditional legislation if the economy worsens (Yachnin/Billings, RollCall, 1/24). Pelosi said, "In the phone call we just had with thepresident I told the president that I hoped that we can use this model ofbipartisanship to work together on unemployment insurance and Medicaid andother issues that spring from a weakened economy, and should our economycontinue to worsen we will not hesitate to advance additional legislation,speaking for myself, to respond to economic pressures affecting the Americanpeople" (CQ HealthBeat, 1/24).

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According to Roll Call, a mark up on the stimulus package has beenscheduled by the Senate Finance Committee for next week, with the full Senateexpected to complete work on the measure within 10 days. Reid said he expectsthe entire proposal to clear both chambers by Feb. 15, the deadline Democratsset for passage. If the Senate makes any changes to the bill, it will have tobe returned to the House for approval before heading to the White House (RollCall, 1/24).

NGA

Raymond Sheppach, executivedirector of the National Governors Association, said that temporarily increasingthe federal medical assistance percentage for states' Medicaid programs is apriority for governors in the economic stimulus package. NGA in a statement onWednesday said that "the nation's governors strongly support a combinationof a $6 billion block grant and $6 billion in increased Medicaid funding to beincluded in any stimulus package enacted into law during the economic downturnof 2008. The increased Medicaid funds should come through increasing eachstate's [FMAP] ... and holding states harmless from scheduled FMAP decreasesfor the four fiscal quarters beginning April 1."

NGA said, "The revenue reductions and Medicaid increases that accompanyall economic downturns, in combination with state balanced budget requirements,are forcing states to cut spending as the economy weakens," adding,"These actions will make the current downturn both longer and more severe.The governors' plan will neutralize these negative impacts" (CQHealthBeat, 1/24).

Trade AdjustmentAssistance Program

Senate Democrats onThursday said legislation that would reauthorize and expand the expired TradeAdjustment Assistance program might be included in a second package thataddresses broader economic issues than the first bill's focus on tax rebatesand small-business incentives, according to CongressDaily. The TAAprogram expired in 2007 after Senate Republicans blocked a three-monthextension of the program, but sufficient funding authority in the fiscal year2008 omnibus appropriations bill will allow the program to continue.Legislation approved by the House in October 2007 would have expanded coverageto service-sector workers and more manufacturing workers, increasedjob-training funds, fixed gaps in health insurance tax credits and providedincreased unemployment insurance and tax incentives to encourage redevelopmentof communities with heavy job losses (Cohn, CongressDaily, 1/25).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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