08 February 2010

Manchin Seeks More Stimulus Funds for States (Updated)

Gov. Joe Manchin has co-signed a letter for the National Governors Association urging Congress to extend "the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s (ARRA) enhanced federal match for Medicaid (FMAP) for two additional quarters."

"Unfortunately, the length and depth of the recession means states will continue to face significant budget shortfalls long after the enhanced FMAP provisions expire at the end of this calendar year," Manchin, as NGA's co-chair, and Vermont Gov. James Douglas told congressional leaders.

(Update: The Associated Press reports on the letter).

Manchin's Department of Health and Human Resources has been bracing for a projected deficit in the state's Medicaid program. Administration officials and lawmakers have previously sparred over a $237 million reserve in the program that legislators have eyed for current spending. DHHR is instead holding on to the reserve, expected to reach $374 million by 2011, in advance of the looming shortfall.

"Congress should also modify ARRA’s existing maintenance of effort (MOE) provisions," the Manchin-Douglas letter also said. "Restoring state flexibility to manage our Medicaid programs and enact common sense reforms is critical to ensuring the program’s ongoing and future stability. "

Douglas' office has also issued a press release about the letter.

The Charleston Daily Mail reported last week that Manchin called on fellow governors to "quit relying on federal stimulus money to balance their budgets," during a speech to natural gas industry executives.

"I know if you send me more without any strings, I'll keep depending on it," Manchin was quoted as saying, adding later that "I've told my fellow governors we've got to get out of this. Rather than me waiting around to see how much you're going to send me, I should ask, 'Have I set my priorities straight?'"

Update: Spokesman Matt Turner tells AP that Manchin "continues to question whether either taxpayers or Congress would support another round of stimulus legislation...The governor instead suggests a loan program that would reward states with zero interest if repaid within a certain time."

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