WASHINGTON — Pointing to the impact on state budgets, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores has called on members of Congress to continue the increase to the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP).
NACDS this week sent a letter to leaders in the House of Representatives and the Senate that urged lawmakers to extend FMAP, which was enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in February 2008 but expires on Dec. 31.
The increase has provided $86.6 billion in financial aid to help avert additional cuts to Medicaid programs, preserving coverage for millions of Medicaid patients, according to NACDS. The letter noted that although the U.S. economy has begun to recover, state finances are expected to suffer at least two more years, with state 2011 budget deficits approaching $180 billion.
"ARRA provided for assistance to all states but also included additional targeted assistance for states with higher rates of unemployment," the letter stated. "Continued federal assistance to states at this time is critical as the recession has driven many Americans out of work."
The Senate included an extension of the FMAP hike in legislation it approved earlier this year, but that provision hasn’t been part of any legislation passing through the House and to President Obama’s desk, NACDS said.
"Even with additional federal assistance, states have had to make cuts to their Medicaid programs through reductions in provider reimbursement and other means," the letter explained. "If the increased FMAP expires in December 2010, states will likely be forced to make further budget cuts to Medicaid and other programs, which could reduce access to critical health care services, including prescription medications, as well as increase taxes to meet their balanced budget requirements. These actions will create a further drag on the economy and may result in additional job loss."
Steve Anderson, president and chief executive of NACDS, noted that Medicaid patients rely on their local pharmacies for their medications and other health care services. "Without this extension of funding," he said in a statement, "those who are most in need will suffer the most if they are unable to access the care and medicines they need to maintain their health and the health of their families."