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McDonnell will not lobby Congress to extend enhanced Medicaid money

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) told reporters Monday afternoon that he will no longer urge Congress to extend enhanced Medicaid spending, saying he has concerns that it could contribute to a ballooning federal deficit.

"I have significant concerns obviously about the size of the federal deficit at $13 trillion and growing that if they're going to provide these extensions they would find way to do it without adding trillions to the national debt,'' he said.

McDonnell had signed a letter in February, along with most of the nation's other governors, asking Congress to extend the additional Medicaid dollars, known as the enhanced FMAP.

Virginia passed a budget in the spring that included drastic cuts to health and human resources, but said that the cuts probably would not go into effect because Congress was on the verge of approving a bill to extend enhanced Medicaid funding for states. Congressional leaders have expressed support for the extension, but the two chambers have yet to pass a bill.

"We're not counting on it,'' McDonnell said. "The House did not pass it. The Senate may or may not pass it. The way our legislature structured the budget was really the prudent way and that was we didn't count on it...The good news for Virginia is we structured it in a responsible way so that it was not embedded in the budget."

Without the additional federal money, the state will trim:

-Medicaid reimbursement rates to hospitals, nursing homes and other doctors by 3 percent in the first year and 4 percent in the second year. Hospitals already receive 72 cents of every dollar of care they provide through Medicaid. The provider rate cut would drop that figure to 64 cents per dollar of care in the first year and below 60 cents by the end of the biennium, according to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Assocation.

-Enrollment in the FAMIS program for low-income pregnant mothers and children; Enrollment will now be capped at 175 percent of the federal poverty line instead of 200 percent, resulting in tens of thousands of poor children and mothers losing health coverage.

-Waiver slots for community based care for the intellectually disabled. The FMAP money was going to be used to fund 250 new waivers. Waiting lists for such waivers number in the thousands.

McDonnell declined to refer to reductions as cuts. "It's not a cut, it's just things that won't be funded,'' he said.
-Anita Kumar and Rosalind S. Helderman

By Anita Kumar  |  June 14, 2010; 5:59 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  
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