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Federal Medicaid funding at risk

WASHINGTON -- Congressman Edward Markey and 23 other representatives and senators sent a letter to the deficit reduction supercommittee today in hopes of protecting Medicaid from potential cuts.

A federal match for the 12 states that expanded their health insurance programs for the poor prior to the passage of health care reform is one of many items being considered for cutbacks as the bipartisan congressional super committee tries to come up with $1.2 trillion in savings over 10 years.

Such a cut could result in a $660 million hit to Massachusetts in federal Medicaid funding between 2016 and 2020 if the committee adopts the portion of President Obama’s deficit reduction proposal that called for cutting Medicaid by $15 billion, according to an estimate provided by Markey’s office.

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The other states that would be affected are: Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermonth, Washington, Wisconsin, and Washington, DC.

The health reform law called for gradually increasing the federal match to states that had proactively expanded Medicaid coverage so that these early expansion states would receive a match equal to that of other states. The 12 states would have received a federal match of 93 percent in 2019 and 90 percent in 2020.

But a new plan now being considered by the super committee would freeze the federal match in these states at the 2015 rate of 80 percent, the letter stated. However, states that had not taken early action would continue to receive a 100 percent match in 2015; that match would be ratcheted down to 90 percent after 2020.

“This would effectively punish states that took early action to ensure that their most vulnerable residents could afford medical care,” the letter said. “While we appreciate the difficult choices about our budget that must be made, we urge you not to sacrifice a program that represents the only affordable health care option for millions of American families.”

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Other Massachusetts congressmen who signed the letter are: Michael Capuano, William Keating, Jim McGovern, John Olver, John Tierney, Niki Tsongas, Barney Frank, Stephen Lynch, and Richard Neal.


Tracy Jan can be reached at tjan@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeTracyJan.