Lawmakers said that they would push to temporarily boost the federal share of Medicaid payments by $15 billion as part of a possible second economic-stimulus bill.
The plan comes at a time when almost half of the states face revenue shortfalls that could have a spillover effect on their share of the Medicaid program. Moreover, the nations economic slump in general could drive more and more individuals to seek healthcare under the program.
House Democrats earlier this year proposed legislation that would increase the federal governments Medicaid allotment to states, called the federal medical assistance percentage, but came up short in their attempts to move the provisions as part of an initial stimulus package. In addition to helping secure health coverage, the injection in new federal dollars has a measurable effect on state economies, including generating new jobs, said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.).
Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), however, urged caution before committing billions in federal dollars. Burgess said that the economic landscape in 2003, when Congress last passed a federal Medicaid boost, was even worse than it is today, with 40 states reporting revenue shortfalls back then. This economy is not great, he said, But I wonder if it might be premature of this Congress to start thinking about a multibillion-dollar bailout for state budgets. -- by Matthew DoBias