The tax extenders bill currently being debated on the Senate floor creates jobs, cuts taxes for small businesses and families and provides much needed assistance to workers affected by the recession. A critical part of the bill also helps cash-strapped states as they seek to balance their budgets and assist individuals enrolled in Medicaid. Republicans need to decide if they will help Democrats pass this bill or continue to stand with Washington special interests over families and seniors in their own states.
STATES SEE ALARMING RISE IN MEDICAID ROLLS
Medicaid Enrollment Rose by Over 3 Million People Between June 2008 and June 2009. “Medicaid enrollment rose by 3.3 million people, or 7.5%, from June 2008 and June 2009, new data from the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation shows. Enrollments rose in every state for the first time since the early 1990s. On average, Medicaid makes up 21% of state budgets, equal to education. Medicaid serves the nation’s poorest children, some parents, pregnant women, people with disabilities and seniors in nursing homes. States must provide basic benefits for people who earn up to the federal poverty level of $22,050 for a family of four. They aren’t threatened by the cuts. States have added people at higher incomes and optional benefits, which are now at risk.” [USA Today, 2/19/10]
Ø Medicaid Has Seen a 21 Percent Increase in Enrollment Over the Last Three Years. “Medicaid, which covers more than 60 million people nationwide, is one of the costliest services states provide. It ate up about 21% of state spending in fiscal 2009, according to a recent report by the National Governors Association and National Association of State Budget Officers. The Great Recession sent even more Americans onto the Medicaid rolls, growing by an estimated 21% over three years. At the same time, state tax revenues plummeted, forcing governors and legislators to make deep budget cuts. To help states cope with this double-disaster, the Obama administration increased the federal share of Medicaid payments by $87 billion as part of last year’s massive stimulus program. States are prevented from tightening eligibility requirements in order to cut costs.” [CNN Money, 6/8/10]
Opposition to Increased Medicaid Funding Could Cause States to Raise Taxes or Cut Budgets. “The aid, worth a total of $25 billion, amounts to nearly one-quarter of the collective budget deficits states face for the fiscal year that begins on July 1 in most states. To balance their budgets, states would have to raise taxes or cut their budgets by that much.” [McClatchy, 5/11/10]
MAJORITY OF STATES HAVE ENORMOUS BUDGET SHORTFALLS
States All Across the Country Are Seeing Millions If Not Billions in Budget Shortfalls. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, many states, including those represented by Republican leaders in the Senate, saw enormous budget gaps in 2010. For instance, Kentucky and Arizona saw a $1.2 billion and $1.9 billion mid-year budget gap. [Center for Budget and Policy Priorities]
Ø Large Public Sector Job Cuts Are Hindering the Nation’s Recovery. New federal data shows “states, localities, and school districts have cut 231,000 jobs since 2008, including 22,000 jobs in May alone. Such cuts slowed the pace of economic growth in the first quarter of 2010 by one-half of one percentage point.” [Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 6/8/10]