Jill A. Hanken: Big decision on Medicaid

Letter from Jill A. Hanken
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Congress is close to making a $400 million decision for Virginia. This is the amount Virginia would receive from additional federal Medicaid payments (called “FMAP”). In fact, the two-year budget recently adopted by the Virginia General Assembly depends upon additional FMAP to avoid devastating cuts to Medicaid, FAMIS and other human services.

Without the FMAP extension, the Virginia budget specifically calls for over $400 million in state cuts during the biennium, many starting on July 1. The cuts would reduce already-too-lean payments to physicians, dentists, hospitals, nursing homes, pharmacies and community-based caregivers. Other cuts would reduce or eliminate eye exams, podiatry, respite care, and other social services and programs.

These cuts would be extremely harmful for tens of thousands of low-income Virginians as well as the providers and programs that serve them. The planned cuts would turn the clock back on incremental improvements Virginia has made over many years.

Virginia is one of 30 states whose budgets rely on an extension of the enhanced FMAP to avoid devastating cuts. FMAP will provide essential state fiscal relief and also protect and create jobs.

In February, Governor Bob McDonnell supported the FMAP extension in a joint letter with most other governors citing the goal of “protecting jobs and speeding economic recovery.” These critical needs still exist. All Virginians – especially the McDonnell Administration and state legislators – should be urging Congress to adopt the FMAP extension to avoid program cuts and job losses.
 

Jill A. Hanken is the staff attorney at the Virginia Poverty Law Center in Richmond.


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