House stimulus package would give CT $474 million for Medicaid; COBRA subsidies for unemployed

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Yesterday the US House passed an $819 billion stimulus package meant to reverse the declining economy. A great deal of the package is devoted to health, including $228.6 million in increased Medicaid funds to CT in 2009 and another $245.8 million in 2010. Those funds are from raising the federal Medicaid matching rate to states by 4.9%, according to Federal Funds Information for States (FFIS). Across all areas – health, education, highways, energy, fiscal stabilization, and dislocated workers – CT would receive an extra $2.3 billion over two years. The legislation also includes relief for newly laid off workers including a 65% subsidy of COBRA premiums for a year and extending COBRA benefits for workers over age 55 and workers who have been at their jobs for at least ten years until they are eligible for Medicare or employer sponsored coverage. The bill also subsidizes states to cover unemployed workers under Medicaid. The package includes $20 billion for health information technology nationally; this funding should bring electronic medical records to 90% of US physicians and 70% of hospitals within ten years. The bill also includes $3 billion for prevention and wellness programs, $1.5 billion for community health centers, $600 million for health care workforce training and $1.1 billion for research in treatment effectiveness. The Senate is expected to vote on their version of the stimulus package next week.
Ellen Andrews