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Federal Lawmakers: “Severe Cuts to Medicaid Providers and Benefits” Imminent Unless Congress Passes FMAP Extension to Help States Cope With Ongoing Budget Crises  
Federal Lawmakers: “Severe Cuts to Medicaid Providers and Benefits” Imminent Unless Congress Passes FMAP Extension to Help States Cope With Ongoing Budget Crises
Citing Letters From 219 House Members and 47 Governors, National Long Term Care Leaders Warn Seniors’ Ongoing Access to Care, Key Frontline Health Jobs at Risk

AHCA – Katherine Lehman – (202) 898-2816
Alliance – Deborah DeShong Reed – (202) 528-4214

Washington, DC – Citing letters from 219 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 47 Governors urging congressional leaders to immediately extend federal Medicaid relief as states cope with the ongoing national recession, the leaders of the American Health Care Association (AHCA) and Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care today implored Congress to pass a pending six month extension to the Medicaid Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP). The emergency relief is scheduled to expire December 31, 2010 – and federal lawmakers warn “states will be forced to make severe cuts to Medicaid providers and benefits” unless the provision is passed.

Passed originally as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), a six-month extension is urgently required, the long term care leaders warned, because Medicaid resources seniors require to maintain access to quality care are being cut, and key frontline care jobs that make a vital difference in patient outcomes are in jeopardy. They also noted December 31, 2010 falls in the middle of most states’ fiscal years – thus complicating critical budgetary planning to meet the needs of vulnerable populations.

The letter from the 219 U.S. House Members to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) – led by Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Lois Capps (D-CA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Gene Green (D-TX) – states: “We are writing to request swift action on a six month extension of the enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP)… FMAP is one of the most critical funding sources for states across the country, and the enhanced FMAP originally enacted through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided $87 billion to state Medicaid programs… Without this funding, our states will be forced to make severe cuts to Medicaid providers and benefits.”

In a separate letter to the U.S. House and Senate leadership from 47 Governors – led by National Governors’ Association (NGA) Chairman Jim Douglas (R-VT) and Vice-Chair Joe Manchin (D-WV) – the state executives warned, “The length and depth of the recession means state and territories will continue to face significant budget shortfalls long after the enhanced FMAP provisions expire at the end of this calendar year… States and territories are in the process of finalizing budgets for FY 2011 that our legislatures will be considering over the next several months. Timely passage of an extension of ARRA’s enhanced FMAP would greatly assist us in maintaining services and further stabilizing the economy.”

The NGA has also recently noted, “Funding for FMAP is a particularly effective countercyclical tool because it immediately allows Governors to eliminate planned budget cuts required to meet balanced budget requirements and continue services for those with the greatest need.”

Said Bruce Yarwood, President and CEO of AHCA, and Alan G. Rosenbloom, President of the Alliance: “The temporary FMAP increase is vital to shielding seniors’ ongoing access to the skilled nursing and rehabilitative care they require. Considering the squeeze on seniors’ care and facility operations caused by federal Medicare cuts of nearly $27 billion over ten years – put in place in just the past seven months – FMAP serves as the critical safety net protecting seniors and the jobs of the front line caregivers who make a qualitative difference in patient outcomes.”

 The National Association of State Budget Officers recently reported states face a collective $55.4 billion shortfall in FY 2011, and a combined $136.1 billion in deficits over FYs 2010-2012. “The eldercare financing crisis at hand cannot be papered-over or pushed to the policy back burner, and Congress must act now,” Yarwood and Rosenbloom continued. “Adequate, stable and consistent Medicare and Medicaid funding was and always will be directly linked with high quality care and staffing and employment stability.”