February 2, 2010 in City

Gregoire counting on federal cash

Medicaid assistance would reduce cutbacks, she says
By The Spokesman-Review
 

On the Web: Follow Washington Legislature developments via Jim Camden’s blog at spokesman.com/blogs/ spincontrol.

OLYMPIA – Gov. Chris Gregoire said she’s confident the federal government will come up with $435 million 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 Monday press conference to announce the number of jobs generated by federal stimulus money, Gregoire said she expects both houses of Congress will extend the Federal Medical Assistance Percentages, or FMAP, in a way that sends higher reimbursement for Medicaid patients to Washington. The state traditionally has had lower reimbursement rates than many other places.

Higher FMAP funding would reduce the amount of revenue the state would have to produce – through taxes, 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 it is in President Barack Obama’s 2011 budget proposal.

“I’m going to book it,” Gregoire said, noting that other states, including California, already have factored it into their budgets.

Even with that federal money, the state would still be about $345 million short of the amount the governor 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 spending in Washington will total about $535 million, creating or saving an estimated 14,500 jobs in the state this quarter. The work ranges from cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation to teaching in schools across the state to working in private companies that study or create energy-saving products.

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 online at www.recovery.wa.gov. The federal government lists figures for all states on its Web site, www.recovery.gov. Both sites have maps that allow users to zero in on money and job information.


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