Several Democratic governors are lobbying to extend through June 2011 the increased federal Medicaid match they have been receiving since the passage of the stimulus last year.
The increase the governors seek is currently included in the Senate version of a tax bill that could face its first floor vote next week.
The governors argue that Congress’s failure to extend the Medicaid program, known as the Federal Medicaid Assistance Program, would cost states about $24 billion and result in additional job cuts.
In a conference call with reporters yesterday, four Democratic governors said the increase needs to be restored to the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act that passed the House late last month or to the companion measure in the Senate.
If the program is not extended, the increased payments would expire at the end of the year.
A Senate amendment to the jobs legislation includes an FMAP extension through June 30, 2011.
The governors said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has said a cloture vote for the legislation is due by June 15. The same bill includes an extension of the Build America Bonds program through 2013.
The governors said 29 states have included the anticipated funds from an FMAP extension in the budgets for fiscal 2011, which for many states begins July 1.
Pennsylvania has not approved its fiscal 2011 budget yet, and Gov. Edward Rendell, who participated in the call, said the FMAP question could “extend the possibility” of a budget delay.
Pennsylvania, which has one of the largest elderly populations among states, would lose about $850 million if the extension is not approved.
Rendell said he has met with his state’s five Blue-Dog Democrat House members, who were among those that objected to the FMAP extension. He expressed confidence that three of the congressmen would vote in favor of an extension if it comes back to that chamber as part of the legislation.
The call also included governors Christine Gregoire of Washington, Jim Doyle of Wisconsin, Mark Parkinson of Kansas.
At least one Republican governor however, has vetoed a portion of a state budget that relied on funds from the FMAP extension. Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina yesterday vetoed spending that relied on $200 million the state could receive in federal Medicaid funding if the program is extended, saying it is “financially reckless” to rely on the federal funds when receipt of them is uncertain.
The Pennsylvania governor highlighted seven states and the District of Columbia as having not relied on all of their federal Medicaid funds as revenue when preparing their budgets.
Rendell acknowledged that while the FMAP extension will add to the federal deficit, it is important to support the economic recovery.
“We will only get out of this recession if we keep creating jobs,” Rendell said. “Jobs have to win the day.”