Obama releases his federal budget…

President Obama released his proposed federal budget today.

Here’s the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities’ inital commentary, which states, “The President’s budget reflects both the short-term priority of boosting the economy and creating jobs and the longer-term priority of bringing deficits under control while meeting important national needs… The budget would reduce deficits by $1.25 trillion over 10 years, compared to what they would be by continuing current policies.”

The Office and Management and budget has a specific fact sheet on the federal budget and California.

In the budget, President Obama reiterates that he is “committed to ensuring that every American has access to affordable health care,” and his FY 2011 budget proposal continues investments to this end in the health care of Californians. Specifically, California would receive $29.4 billion to provide health coverage to low-income families [Source: OMB factsheet]. In addition, other funding would be used to improve and increase the public health workforce, encourage health centers and providers to provide care to underserved populations, fund initiatives to achieve higher quality care at lower costs, and strengthen regional and local partnerships in rural areas.

STATE RELIEF FOR MEDI-CAL COSTS

Of particular note to those of us who deal with the state budget, there is some continued state relief through Medicaid.

Under the economic stimulus package (ARRA) passed last year, the federal matching rate for California’s Medi-Cal expenditures was increased from 50 percent to 61.6 percent. This totaled $1,991,907,534 for the two quarters from October 1, 2008 through March 31, 2009. In all, California was allotted $11.23 billion for the increased Medicaid match rate that is set to expire on December 31, 2010. [Source: http://www.statehealthfacts.org/]

President Obama’s FY 2011 budget proposal includes about $25.5 billion to extend the increased Medicaid matching rate for another six months until June 30, 2011 [Source: OMB]. This means California could receive an addition $2 billion to $3 billion in federal Medicaid relief under the President’s proposal, depending on actual expenditures and the formula for apportioning the grants to states.

This six-month extension of enhanced Medicaid matching funds is one of the requests for additional federal funding that Governor Schwarzenegger requested, and one that has also been included in other legislative vehicles, including health reform and jobs. However, Governor Schwarzenegger’s state budget requested many other funding increases and policy changes, totaling nearly $7 billion. Given the political and procedural barriers in Washington, DC, some are more likely than others, but getting the enhanced Medicaid matching funds is a good first step.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

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