An economic stimulus package being framed by White House advisers and congressional leaders could include a provision to temporarily increase Medicaid payments to states as a way to cover a potential boost in enrollment brought on by a sluggish economy.
House members discussed including a provision that would be similar to one passed in 2003 that led to a 1.5% increase in state Medicaid payments, according to congressional aides. Medicaid typically sees a spike in enrollment during deep economic downturns because more people lose their jobs and their health coverage.
An increase this year could cost billions of dollars, according to published reports, but would not need to be offset from other programs because Democratic leaders said they would likely waive "pay go" budget rules to more quickly approve a package. Still, such a proposal could meet with resistance from Bush administration officials. On Wednesday, HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt told reporters that he does not support an increase in the federal matching rate under Medicaid as an economic engine.
More broadly, President Bush said that he wants about $145 billionroughly 1% of gross domestic productin tax relief to help individuals and small businesses start to spend again in an effort to jump-start a lagging economy. This growth package must be built on broad-based tax relief that will directly affect economic growth and not the kind of spending projects that would have little immediate impact on our economy, Bush said. -- by Matthew DoBias
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