Over the past several days, healthcare groups—ranging from the American Hospital Association to the American Health Care Association—have been urging Congress to quickly approve a six-month extension of the Medicaid Federal Medical Assistance Percentage.
More than a year ago, the economic stimulus package provided a nearly $87 billion increase in additional Medicaid matching funds to the states. The current funding is due to expire Jan. 1, 2011, which has proven problematic to cash-strapped states that are now preparing and finalizing their fiscal 2011 budgets.
With at least 47 states facing "massive budget shortfalls" in the coming fiscal year, extending FMAP funding will be "critical to ensuring Medicaid patients have access to care at America's hospitals and other healthcare providers," said the letter from the hospital groups that include AHA, Catholic Health Association of the United States, Federation of American Hospitals, National Association of Children's Hospitals, and National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems.
In addition, the hospital groups told House and Senate leadership that without the additional funding, "many states will be forced to make significant reductions in Medicaid costs through cuts to eligibility, benefits and already low provider payment rates."
In a separate letter, AHCA and the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care said that Medicaid resources that "seniors require to maintain access to quality care" would face cuts, and that "key frontline care jobs that make a vital difference in patient outcomes are in jeopardy."
The House and the Senate actually had approved separate legislation to extend the Medicaid enhanced rate for six more months from Jan. 1: On March 10, the Senate passed a six month extension of enhanced Medicaid payments as part of HR 4213, and the House passed similar provisions in two separate pieces of legislation last year. However, no further action has been taken.
The movement has received strong congressional bipartisan support. In a letter signed by 219 congressman earlier this month, House leaders were urged to "quickly settle outstanding differences" and to "get a final bill to the President for signature without further delay."