Governor Bob Riley has joined 46 other governors in asking Congress to extend by another six months the federal economic stimulus funds to shore up state Medicaid programs. If granted, an extension would bring an additional $163 million to Alabama’s Medicaid program in the first half of 2011 and prevent substantial cuts, according to Alabama’s Medicaid commissioner, Carol Steckel. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the stimulus bill) that Congress passed last year will send a total of $850 million to Alabama for its Medicaid program over 27 months, ending in January. Interestingly, Governor Riley’s position puts him at odds with the state’s Congressional delegation, most of which voted against the original stimulus legislation and a subsequent health care bill that included similar provisions extending federal aid for state Medicaid programs.
It should be noted that enrollment in Alabama’s Medicaid program has jumped by about 100,000 people since 2007. Currently, the program serves about 1 million Alabamians. Commissioner Steckel has recommended cuts in services to make up for funding shortfalls. But even with the extension, the Commissioner says there still may be almost $80 million in cuts to optional programs and services, such as non-institutional hospice care, home health visits for adults and renal dialysis for adults. Many Alabamians don’t realize that the Alabama Supreme Court in recent rulings involving our state’s Medicaid program cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars. That was money that could have been put to very good use in the Medicaid’s program.
Source: Birmingham News
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