Crucial funding that’s needed to sustain Washington’s Apple Health for Kids program and other vital health care services in states all over the country is in serious jeopardy.
The U.S. House has passed a bill that would drop a six-month extension of federal Medicaid matching funds that states receive to help cover their costs of providing health care to low-income people.
The Children’s Alliance is urging the U.S. Senate to protect these critical Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) dollars, which Washington and many other states were counting on when they did the difficult work of balancing their budgets during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
A vote in the Senate could happen as early as next week. If Congress fails to extend FMAP funding, it would cost our state nearly $500 million – which Gov. Chris Gregoire said might force her to call state lawmakers back for a second special legislative session.
“These funds are critically important to fund health care and other services our citizens deserve,” Gregoire said in a news release. “And this program has proven to support and create jobs – the key to our recovery from the national recession.”
This funding will ensure that many thousands of our state’s most vulnerable people, especially children in low-income families and communities of color, continue to have access to high-quality, affordable health care.
The News Tribune sums it up superbly in an editorial published today:
“Pulling the rug out from under states would be a mere token gesture of frugality – but there would be nothing token about the pain it would inflict on vulnerable people protected by social services.”
In a Seattle Times blog post, Sen. Patty Murray said she’ll fight to extend the Medicaid matching funds. Advocates with the Coalition on Human Needs, which promotes public policies aimed at improving the lives of low-income and other vulnerable people, and Voices for America’s Children, a partner of Children’s Alliance, will be meeting Tuesday with Sen. Maria Cantwell to urge her to do the same.
In the meantime, we’re asking our more than 10,000 Children’s Alliance members to take action by calling on Sens. Murray and Cantwell to do the right thing for kids and families by protecting this much-needed funding.
– Liz Gillespie