Torn between fear of voters and fear of deficits, the Senate this week passed a $30 billion, 99-week extension of unemployment benefits for jobless Americans. However, the bill, which is awaiting President Obama’s signature, was amended by the Senate to remove a provision that would have continued to provide states with even a scaled-down version of the “enhanced” federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP).
“I expect that FMAP is dead for now, at least until after the election,” said Ron Manderscheid, executive director of the National Association of County Behavioral Health Directors, in an exclusive interview with Behavioral Healthcare. He predicted that state governors, dozens of whom have counted on an extension of the enhanced FMAP payments to narrow unprecedented budget shortfalls in FY 2011, will continue to press Senators on the issue, hoping to win an extension of enhanced FMAP funding in the Senate’s post-election lame duck session.
The enhanced FMAP, which at present boosts the percentage of federal matching funds paid to states based on their Medicaid expenditures by at least 6.2 percent (more for high-unemployment areas), started in FY 2009 to help cash-strapped states meet the expenses of their Medicaid programs during the recession. Without Senate support, this additional funding will expire on December 31, 2010.
Would the loss of enhanced FMAP funding in 2011 have an effect on your behavioral health organization? Let us know in the comments section below.