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Gregoire on Medicaid money: Book it

An update on story posted earlier

OLYMPIA – Gov. Chris Gregoire said she’s confident the federal government will come up with some $435 million in money for Medicaid reimbursements over the next 18 months, easing somewhat the cuts the state would have to make on health care spending to fill a projected hole in its budget
At a morning press conference to announce the number of jobs generated by federal stimulus money, Gregoire said she now expects both houses of Congress will extend the Federal Medical Assistance Percentages – commonly called FMAP – in a way that sends higher reimbursement for Medicaid patients to Washington. The state has traditionally has lower reimbursement rates than many other places.
Higher FMAP funding would reduce the amount of revenue the state would have to produce — through taxes or fees or federal grants — to “buy back” some state programs she proposed cutting in her December budget.
The FMAP proposal was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives, and has yet to pass the Senate, but is in President Barack Obama’s 2011 budget proposal.
“I’m going to book it,” Gregoire said, noting that other states including California have already factored into their budgets.
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Even with that federal money, the state would still be about $345 million short of the amount she said is needed to save essential programs. Some of that money might also be in a federal jobs bill, but that is stalled in the Senate and Gregoire said the state cannot count on it yet. She refused to discuss tax options for the remainder, saying all the figures are subject to change later this month when the revenue forecast is released.
Gregoire and U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., said new estimates show the federal Recovery Act will spend some $535 million in Washington, creating or saving an estimated 14,500 jobs this quarter in federal projects, ranging from cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation to teachers in schools across the state to  jobs in private companies that study or create energy-saving products.
“These have not been make-work jobs,” Inslee said.  
A total of $7.4 billion has been awarded to the state, although only about half has been “distributed” to specific public projects or private contractors.
Gregoire said the projects, amounts of money and figures on jobs created can be found on a special state Web site. The federal government lists figure for all states on its Web site .Both sites have maps that allow users to zero in on money and job information.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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