Senator John Kerry and the Massachusetts congressional delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives today sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid urging the two leaders to support passage of an extension of the temporary increase in Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) funding. The 6-month extension of increased FMAP funding was initially provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). If this funding is not extended, Massachusetts and nearly 30 other states are facing drastic budget cuts.
"The extension will provide a vital lifeline that will protect health programs serving vulnerable residents, mitigate the need for state layoffs of teachers and public safety employees, and preserve the social safety net for individuals and families still struggling to recover from the ongoing recession," the lawmakers wrote in the letter. "If the extension is not enacted in the coming weeks, states will begin to initiate drastic cuts, layoffs, and tax increases which will endanger our national economic recovery."
The House approved the 6-month extension of FMAP as part of its version of the Affordable Health Care for America Act, the Senate is expected to consider the extension as part of its version of the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act, and President Obama included the extension in his fiscal year 2011 budget proposal. As a result, like most states across the country, Massachusetts included over $600 million in enhanced FMAP funding in its fiscal year 2011 budget proposal. Still, the extension has not been signed into law as the new state fiscal year approaches.
Said Sen. Kerry; "We've been sounding this alarm for months and now we're at the end of the line. Without an extension, Governor Patrick will have no choice but to make deeper and deeper cuts to the state budget, losing more jobs when we should be creating them. Massachusetts would need to make over $600 million in deep cuts hurting education, public safety, and health care. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it - this extension absolutely must happen. Thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in state aid are at stake."
Said Rep. Markey; "Without this federal funding, our state's fiscal health will be in serious jeopardy. This funding will not only protect critical medical programs in the Commonwealth, but will also help keep cops on the beat and teachers at work in our classrooms."
Said Rep. McGovern; "This is a critical issue for Massachusetts. I am hopeful that we can work in a bipartisan fashion to secure this vital funding."
Said Rep. Tsongas; "Failure by Congress to extend this needed Medicaid funding would force the Commonwealth to make devastating budget cuts that would push many communities to the brink and further erode our social safety net at time when it is needed most. It is critical that we get this done."
Said Rep Delahunt; "In the current economic climate, with our state and local communities facing budget shortfalls, we simply need this extra funding," said Delahunt. "Without it, we'll see even more layoffs in our schools, as well as local police and fire departments throughout Massachusetts."
Said Rep. Olver; "I continue to support the extension of FMAP funding. It is a crucial piece of the Massachusetts budget as the state struggles to make ends meet in this difficult economic climate. I will continue to push hard for the extension of these critical funds."
Said Rep Capuano; "Most states, including Massachusetts, are still struggling with difficult budgets and are depending on these funds so they can avoid devastating cuts in other services. I am encouraged that the Senate has added FMAP funding back to the legislation, and I hope it will soon be available to our states. The House bill passed last month eliminated this crucial funding, which is one of the reasons why I voted against it. I strongly urge House and Senate leaders to retain these needed funds as they work to resolve differences between the two bills."
Said Rep. Tierney; "An extension of this funding is critical to protecting essential programs in Massachusetts that serve our children, seniors, and communities. During these tough economic times, this funding will help support local health programs, keep more teachers in our schools, and save public safety jobs."