Washington, D.C. – Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva has introduced the Medicaid Enhancement and Emergency Job Creation Act of 2011, a bill that provides greater health care funds to state governments. The bill expands funding for state Medicaid programs, creates hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country, and prevents hospital and health center closures.
The bill, formally designated HR 3542, restores the enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Percentagesrates established by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), effectively increasing each state’s Medicaid reimbursement. That higher federal assistance level was extended last year and then phased out in July.
The bill reinstates the policy, originally included in ARRA, that makes higher reimbursements contingent on states having Medicaid eligibility standards no more restrictive than they were on July 1, 2008, regardless of any new or renewed waiver a state may have from the Department of Health and Human Services. Arizona would have to undo some of the recent cuts it has made to the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System Medicaid program, including a freeze on its childless adult population, to be eligible for the additional money.
“This recent avalanche of cuts is devastating our local economy, and state leaders should be working hard to strengthen the program before Arizona suffers even more,” Grijalva said. “I’ve been fighting for more Medicaid funding at the federal level all year because the people of Arizona can’t survive on hope and trickle-down economics any longer. When hundreds of thousands of Arizonans lose health coverage, that doesn’t just mean they’re going to the emergency room and costing everyone more – it means the health care industry is shrinking and jobs are being lost. This bill gets people the health care they need, puts people back to work, and heads off the hospital closures threatening our communities.”
According to an analysis from the Economic Policy Institute, an additional $42 billion in Medicaid grants – matching the Recovery Act increase for fiscal year 2010 – could close more than 40 percent of states’ budget shortfalls and provide immediate economic support, particularly for states with high unemployment that saw a greater increase in federal matching rates. This assistance could increase employment by an estimated 444,000 jobs in a single year, mostly in the private sector.
A full analysis of state Medicaid funding shortfalls is available at http://bit.ly/u4EyHL.