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Obama sending states $15 billion for Medicaid


By Matthew DoBias
Posted: February 23, 2009 - 3:00 pm ET
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President Barack Obama said that his administration would move more than $15 billion in federal Medicaid dollars to states on Wednesday, a step meant to help stem a healthcare crisis in the face of rising unemployment and growing ranks of uninsured people.

“That means by the time most of you get home, money will be waiting to help 20 million vulnerable Americans in your states keep their healthcare coverage,” Obama told governors in Washington today at the National Governors Association annual winter meeting.

In his White House speech, the president reiterated that the funding—part of the much larger economic stimulus package—“is not a blank check.” Obama said that the dollars are “intended to go directly toward helping struggling Americans keep their healthcare coverage.” Several of the nation’s governors have said that the infusion of federal money into their Medicaid coffers, more than $87 billion over the next three years, could free up state dollars previously marked for the program to instead go to other programs outside of the healthcare arena.

Obama said that his administration would closely monitor how the money is spent. Additionally, Vice President Joe Biden will oversee the Obama administration’s implementation of the stimulus funding, and Earl Devaney, a former Secret Service agent who pursued waste and fraud in the Interior Department, will also oversee spending.

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