Health Law and Policy Update
Headline of the week
House imperils Medicaid funding, and Colorado's basic services
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives failed to extend a key provision of the Recovery Act, a decision that could force Colorado to cut another $211.7 million from vital public services.
The House removed a six-month extension of enhanced federal funding for Medicaid (or FMAP), from H.R. 4213, the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010, before passing the bill. A provision that would have extended a federal COBRA subsidy was also stripped from the final version of the bill. The enhanced Medicaid funding is a recession-related support to states that has been in place since October 2008, and is slated to last through Dec. 31, 2010, or halfway through Colorado's next fiscal year.
The more than $700 million in additional federal money received thus far has helped Colorado accommodate rising enrollment in the Medicaid program and greatly reduced the need for cuts to other public services. The number of Coloradans enrolled in Medicaid has increased 28 percent during the past two years to more than 512,000, a rise mainly driven by the recession.
Colorado is one of 30 states that built its budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year with the understanding that Congress would approve an extension of the enhanced Medicaid funding through the end of the 2010-11 fiscal year.
The U.S. Senate is expected to take up H.R. 4213 next week. In the meantime, health care advocates and state officials are increasing efforts to encourage the Senate to add the FMAP and COBRA extensions back into the legislation.
The enhanced Medicaid funding is critical to the state budget and the state economy, and it's very likely to be lost without swift action by the Senate. The subsidies for COBRA coverage are important to providing health coverage security to unemployed workers weathering the recession.
The Colorado Center on Law and Policy urges Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall to restore the Medicaid and COBRA extensions and calls on members of the House to retain the provisions when the measure returns to their chamber.
For more information about the Medicaid match, see an issue brief the Colorado Center on Law and Policy released Thursday and a state-by-state accounting from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
What you can do
Call your representatives and tell them to extend the enhanced Medicaid (or FMAP) match. Don't know who your representatives are? Find out at Project Vote Smart.