Because of the way Medicaid is financed, a recession means double trouble. States have reduced revenue, and thus less money to spend on Medicaid, just as more people are losing their jobs and their health coverage, and need the program. States have little choice but to cut Medicaid spending. Unlike the federal government, they are required by their constitutions to balance their budgets annually, and Medicaid is one of the largest budget components.
In the last economic downturn, the federal government temporarily increased its share of funding for the program in exchange for states agreeing not to cut eligibility. Today, as the economy continues to slide and more working families become uninsured, legislators are again contemplating a funding fix to help the states meet their Medicaid coverage challenge.
What happens to health coverage when workers lose their jobs and what is the impact on Medicaid? What Medicaid-related actions are states currently taking to deal with budgetary constraints? How effective have past federal Medicaid increases been in avoiding coverage loss and/or stimulating the economy? Can additional Medicaid funding be justified during a time of declining federal tax revenues and rapidly expanding deficits? What steps can the federal government and states take to provide assistance with health coverage to families hard hit by the recession?
To address these and related questions, the Alliance for Health Reform and the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured sponsored a January 9 briefing. Panelists were: Robin Rudowitz of the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured; Margaret Hulbert of the United Way of Greater Cincinnati; Stan Rosenstein of Health Management Associates; and David Parrella of the Connecticut Department of Social Services. Ed Howard of the Alliance and Diane Rowland of the Kaiser Commission will co-moderated.
Full Transcript (Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Speaker Biographies (Adobe Acrobat PDF)