WASHINGTON — Five pharmacy associations are urging Congress to extend the temporary increase in the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP), which provides funding for state Medicaid and other health programs.
In a letter to the bipartisan Senate leadership, the American Pharmacists Association, National Association of Chain Drug Stores, National Community Pharmacists Association, National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations and Food Marketing Institute noted that the FMAP increase runs until Dec. 31 and its expiration will add yet another heavy burden on hard-pressed state budgets — in turn impacting patient access to vital pharmacy and other health care services.
"While the U.S. economy has shown positive signs of recovering, state finances are expected to continue to suffer at least two more years, with state budget deficits approaching $180 billion," the associations wrote in the letter. "Therefore, continued federal assistance to states at this time is critical as the recession has driven many Americans out of work, increasing reliance on state Medicaid programs."
The letter was directed to Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D., Mont.) and Senate Finance Committee chairman ranking member Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa).
"States are currently in the process of finalizing their fiscal year 2011 budgets," the pharmacy groups said in the letter. "Without action by Congress, states will likely be forced to make further cuts to Medicaid and other programs, which could reduce access to critical health care products and services including prescription medications and related pharmacist services, as well as increased taxes to meet their balanced budget requirements. These actions will create a further drag on the economy and may result in additional job loss."
In late April, NACDS 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 in February 2008.
And late last month, NCPA commended congressional leaders for proposing to extend FMAP by six months as part of economic stimulus legislation, the so-called "jobs bill."