The state has asked for another two-week extension of its federal health care funding package after federal regulators balked at Massachusetts’ request for up to $3 billion more in Medicaid spending over the next three years.
The federal payments, crucial to the survival of the state’s landmark health insurance law, were set to expire on June 30. But the state has received three two-week extensions, and is looking for a fourth. That would extend the deadline for reaching an agreement in ongoing negotiations over billions in federal health care funds to Aug. 25, The Boston Globe reported.
The Globe reported that the state is pushing for an increase of up to $1 billion a year for the next three years in Medicaid spending because it expects at least 50,000 more residents to sign up for Commonwealth Care, a subsidized health insurance program for lower-income residents ineligible for Medicaid.
That’s more than expected and comes at time when Massachusetts is dealing with a tight budget and declining revenues.
Medicaid is a state and federally funded program that provides health care assistance to low-income people.
Massachusetts has been granted waivers from Medicaid rules in order to expand assistance to residents who wouldn’t otherwise be eligible for coverage. But federal rules require than any expanded coverage not cost more than would have been spent without the waivers.
The actual cost of the expanded coverage that Massachusetts is requesting is one of the points of dispute between state and federal negotiators, the Globe reported.
“If we don’t get everything we are looking for in the waiver, we would either have to come up with the money through [state] reserves, or we would have to cut benefits,” said state Sen. Steven Panagiotakos, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
The issue is a major sticking point as state and federal regulators negotiate over a total of more than $11 billion in federal funds over three years. The money is earmarked for the state’s universal health coverage law, which has provided insurance to more than 350,000 residents, as well as dozens of health care programs.
The Patrick administration has declined to discuss details of the sensitive negotiations.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said the agency has recently provided “feedback, specifics and ideas on how to proceed.” But she said she couldn’t comment further on the discussions.
Gov. Deval Patrick said that the higher number of insured
taxpayers shows that Massachusetts' 2006 law — designed to require health care for
nearly all residents — has made dramatic progress. “We continue to put one foot in front of the other,” Patrick said. “There are challenges that remain.” More »
Gov. Deval Patrick said that the higher number of insured taxpayers shows that Massachusetts' 2006 law — designed to require health care for nearly all residents — has made dramatic progress. “We continue to put one foot in front of the other,” Patrick said. “There are challenges that remain.” More »
Gov. Deval Patrick is asking for an extra $153 million to cover rising costs in the current fiscal year, and observers are questioning whether the $869 million budgeted for the subsidized Commonwealth Care program for the new fiscal year is enough. More »
Two years after the state’s landmark health law was signed, the cracks are starting to show. Costs are soaring and Massachusetts lawmakers are weighing a dollar-a-pack hike in the state’s cigarette tax to help pay for a larger-than-expected enrollment in the law’s subsidized insurance plans. More »