Cantwell Sponsors Legislation to Extend Medicaid Assistance

WASHINGTON, DC –Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and 32 other senators introduced legislation (S. 3000) to extend a provision in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) which provides states with increased federal Medicaid funding. Under ARRA, states receive enhanced federal Medicaid assistance to help cover the increased Medicaid demand resulting from the economic downturn.  Unless further action is taken, these enhanced payments are set to expire at the end of this year, placing a huge burden on the states’ budgets. This legislation will provide Washington state with approximately $430 million in additional Medicaid payments, allowing the state to continue providing services such as hospice care, personal care services, adult hearing and vision, and interpreter services that more than one million Washington state Medicaid enrollees count on. 
“As families continue to struggle through this economic downturn, Medicaid has become an increasingly important source of health care,” Cantwell said. “Extending the Recovery Act increase in Medicaid will not only help many Washington families continue receiving health care, but will also alleviate some of the budget pressure facing Washington state and nearly every other state in the nation. This increased funding will ensure that Washington’s most vulnerable populations will have access to the vital health care services they rely on.” 
Providing this extension can free up funds in the Washington state budget to help cover other public health programs. President Obama included this funding in his FY2011 budget released on Monday. The enhanced federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) under ARRA is set to expire on December 31, 2010. The extension would last until June 30, 2011.