It’s only fair. Under the original Senate health reform bill, states will get substantial federal assistance for increasing their Medicaid eligibility to 133% of the federal poverty level. Except for states that already cover people up to that level, like … Massachusetts.
So Senator Kerry spoke today at Children’s Hospital Boston and announced that he has secured additional federal funds for Massachusetts in the Senate manager’s amendment, which was adopted this morning. CBO estimates the total amount at $500 million, although there is some uncertainty around the total. Also speaking at the event were HCFA Executive Director Amy Whitcomb Slemmer and MIT Economist Jonathan Gruber.
Senator Kerry listed a number of other benefits in the bill for Massachusetts, including increasing subsidies to 400% of poverty (CommCare now only goes to 300%), tax credits for small business, Medicare improvements like closing the drug doughnut hole, and support for comprehensive children’s coverage through CHIP. He pledged that he had secured assurances that the federal bill would not interfere with the success of Massachusetts health reform.
Maybe it’s just me, but we very much like the way they drafted the formal amendment language to boost the state’s federal reimbursement rate for three calendar years starting in 2014. In the amendment, it’s section 10201, starting on page 98. I’ve bolded the cool part; for those not familiar with legislative language this is somewhat unusual:
‘‘(z) EQUITABLE SUPPORT FOR CERTAIN STATES.—
‘‘(2)(A) During the period that begins on January
1, 2014, and ends on December 31, 2016, notwithstanding
subsection (b), the Federal medical assistance percentage
otherwise determined under subsection (b) with respect to
all or any portion of a fiscal year occurring during that
period shall be increased by .5 percentage point for a State
described in subparagraph (B) for amounts expended for
medical assistance under the State plan under this title
or under a waiver of that plan during that period.
‘‘(B) For purposes of subparagraph (A), a State described
in this subparagraph is a State that—
‘‘(i) is described in clauses (i) and (ii) of paragraph (1)(B); and
‘‘(ii) is the State with the highest percentage of
its population insured during 2008, based on the
Current Population Survey.
The House bill also recognizes Massachusetts has going ahead of the rest of the country and provides substantially more federal reimbursements for people we are already covering.
We know Governor Patrick and his staff have been working hard with our Congressional delegation to provide them with the ammunition they need to advocate on behalf of Massachusetts. We thank Governor Patrick and the delegation for their ongoing work to give us our fair share, too.
– Brian Rosman