Medi-funding Shorts New York

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With jobs evaporating as the nation's economic slump deepens, at least 4 million more Americans are expected to qualify for and join the Medicaid rolls in the next six months. New York-- already home to 8% of the Medicaid population could be especially hit. Thats's why Gov. Pataki heads to Washington today to seek a much-needed boost in federal funding.

Led by Pataki, the nation's governor's want Congress to hike the federal Medicaid contribution to states by at least $5.5 billion. The Senate has included funding increases in its economic stimulus package. The House is working on several proposals. Depending on the final final bill, New york's increase could range from $500 million to 1.5 billion. It needs the 1.5 billion. Not only to cope with the fiscal fallout from Sept. 11, but to make up for unfair funding formulas.

Historically, New York has been shortchanged on federal money.

For Medicaid, health insurance for the poor, Washington kicks in just 50% tot he Empire State. Compare that with more than 60% fro Texas or, the high end, 76% for Mississippi. New york State itself may be relatively affluent--New Jersey and Connecticut also get 50% but Medicaid here serves about 2.8 million people, costing more htan 30 billion annually.

A 1.5 billion increase in federal medicaid funds would raise New York's federal reinbursement rate to 54.5%. That would be reasonable. That would be equitable. Taht would be a start.

Becasue hte remainder of Medicaid costs are split equally by the state and its municipalities, a hike also would ease this city's fiscal ills. Washington must remember that New York took a huge financial hit for the entire nation Sept. 11. A manageable economic slide turned into a full blown crisis. The projected budget deficit could reach 4 billion in three years--none of it the fault of the city.

At the same time, although President Bush promised New York at least 20 billion to rebuild after the attacks, state officials have ahd to battle Washington for every dollar. An increase in the federal Medicaid match, even a temporary one, as Pataki proposed, would help offset staggering revenue losses.

Congress and the White house must not only listen toPataki, they must deliver. Mew york is merely seeking its fair share.