Obama Plan Dollars Coming To Maryland This Week
The first money for Maryland under the new economic stimulus law should begin flowing later this week, President Obama told the nation's governors today.
More than $275 million is being made available to Maryland's governnment to help fund Medicaid, the state-federal program designed to provide health care for the poor. The new money, to be placed in a special U.S. Treasury account, will be administered by the Baltimore-based Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees Medicaid, the exact amount of initial funding for Maryland is $275,508,598. Those funds are for the first six months of temporary federal aid for Medicaid, part of some $15 billion being distributed nationwide. Eventually, some $87 billion in Medicaid relief will be provided nationally over the next two years.
State officials have said they expect Maryland to receive more than $1 billion to prop up Medicaid, which is being squeezed by a shortfall in projected state revenues as a result of the declining economy.
Obama told a gathering of governors at the White House this morning that his administration will make the first batch of Medicaid funding available on Wednesday, which “means that by the time most of you get home, money will be waiting to help 20 million vulnerable Americans in your states keep their health coverage.”
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, in Washington for the annual winter meeting of state executive, will be home sooner than that, of course.
O’Malley, a Democrat, said late last week that, despite the injection of emergency federal aid, the state's budget problems will make it impossible to carry out a planned expansion of Medicaid this year to cover poor adults in Maryland who have no children.
The Maryland Hospital Association and the Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative had urged the governor to move ahead with the expansion. They maintained that bringing more people under Medicaid would save lives and reduce health care costs now being subsizied other citizens who have health insurance and whose premiums are higher as a result.
In Maryland, parents with annual incomes up to 116 percent of the federal poverty guideline, which is about $20,500 for a family of three, became eligible for Medicaid last year.
The limit had previously been 40 percent of poverty, considered low for one of the wealthiest states in the country. Adults without children up to the higher level had been scheduled to become eligible this July.