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.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), vice chairwoman of the Joint Economic Committee, released a report showing that if employment falls to the levels that followed the 2001 recession, the demand for Medicaid and its offshoot, the State Childrens Health Insurance Program, will soar. The report shows that up to 1.1 million additional children will enroll in SCHIP each year while Medicaid would swell with an additional 1.5 million people.
An increase this year could cost billions, according to published reports, but would not need to be offset from other programs.