Congress slow to act on Medicaid funding

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It must be summer. How do I know? Congress is dragging its heels on an important piece of legislative business.

Not that the two chambers haven't been productive. The House and Senate passed a major—some say historic—financial reform overhaul bill, so certainly they've been busy. But at least one bill is languishing in the chambers, and nursing home providers are feeling pressure because of it.

That, of course, is legislation to extend the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) increase. Just short of begging, governors, providers, lawmakers and now the AARP have implored Congress to pass a bill to offer some needed Medicaid relief to states—about $24 billion from January to July.

Like the doc fix dilemma, Congress knows it has to do something, but pressure  to hold down spending has slowed up the works. Also, in the mind of Congress, the 6.2% increase doesn't end until Jan. 1. So, really, what's the rush?

Of course, governors, who are frantically trying to stop their fiscal bleeding, and are planning for the next fiscal year, disagree. Many are struggling to find areas in their already-lean budgets to cut. Not an easy task. 

But budging their lawmakers will be a struggle as well. After all, they are competing with the summer mindset in Washington.

Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.