Medicaid relief is officially in sight now that the House and Senate have passed a 10-year, $350 billion tax cut that includes $20 billion in aid to cash-strapped states. Of the $20 billion, $10 billion is targeted over the next 15 months to increase federal matching funds to state Medicaid programs. The bill once also contained significant Medicare payment increases for rural hospitals, but House and Senate negotiators, with the support of President Bush, agreed to hold off on payment changes until Medicare reform debates begin this summer. The American Hospital Association and other provider groups said they were pleased with the tax bill's Medicaid relief; however, "more needs to be done, specifically in the area of Medicaid disproportionate share funding," said Rick Pollack, the AHA's executive vice president. The bill heads to President Bush and is expected to secure his signature. -- by Jeff Tieman
$10 billion in Medicaid aid awaits Bush's signature
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