AARP warns Congress against inaction on Medicaid funding

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States to pay less than expected for Medicaid expansion, Kaiser finds
States to pay less than expected for Medicaid expansion, Kaiser finds

The powerful seniors' lobbying group AARP has entered the debate over extended Medicaid funding for states. It sent a letter to every member of Congress pushing for approval of the funds.

AARP told Congress that failure to act on extending increased Medicaid funding to states through the first six months of 2011 would harm millions of Americans, particularly low-income seniors, The Hill newspaper reported. The temporary 6.2% increase in the federal medical assistance percentage is set to expire at the end of 2010. AARP argued in its letter that many states desperately need the funds because they cannot afford the additional Medicaid enrollees that resulted from the economic downturn, and will result from the healthcare reform law. 

In related news, a hearing was held Tuesday on the impact of reduced Medicaid funding on black nursing home residents. A new Avalere Health study suggests that deteriorating Medicaid rate levels across the nation disproportionately affect the ability of blacks to sustain ongoing access to quality nursing home care. Forty percent of all minority skilled nursing facility residents live in facilities with large Medicaid populations, according to the health policy report.

“Besides stressing why it is essential to pass emergency Medicaid relief, it is important to express the urgent need to head off any systemic trend towards a two-tiered system of nursing facilities—whereby the lowest performing facilities provide care to the poorest and most vulnerable populations in rural and inner-city America,” Rep. Ed Towns (D-NY) said.