WASHINGTON Oct 3 Washington, D.C., officials
said on Thursday the U.S. capital was not able to pay hospitals,
long-term care providers and other organizations that
participate in the Medicaid healthcare program for the poor
during the federal budget shutdown.
Since the District of Columbia is a local government without
a state, the U.S. Congress authorizes its budget when it
approves the federal budget. Congress has been locked in a
budget stalemate that allowed the federal government to shut
down Tuesday at the start of the fiscal year.
That meant the city cannot spend any of the $2.7 billion it
budgeted for Medicaid, even though those funds come from its own
The city pays healthcare providers in the Medicaid program
and then receives federal reimbursement equal to 70 percent.
"We don't have the authority," said Wayne Turnage, director
of Washington's department of healthcare finance. "We have the
Healthcare providers were expecting to receive $89 million
this week, Turnage said. The district could use its contingency
reserve fund to cover the amount, but the $144 million fund is
supposed to support all city operations during the shutdown, he
Most states control their own spending plans, and the
shutdown should not affect the U.S. government's Medicaid
Still, the Medicaid program is not immune to the shutdown,
especially as federal workers have been furloughed.
Every year, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services,
approves and extends hundreds of waivers intended to provide
states with funding and operational flexibility, said Andrea
Maresca, director of federal policy for the National Association
of Medicaid Directors.
The process frequently takes weeks of negotiations between
the states and the center.
"It's unclear what will happen if there aren't workers to
negotiate with states and get those approved," she said. "There
are things that will sit in somebody's inbox."