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June 30 (Reuters) - The $830 billion economic stimulus package of federal spending and tax breaks temporarily increased the reimbursements states receive from the U.S. government for Medicaid, the healthcare program for the poor.
Some states found the additional money kept them from having to take money away from other services in order to cover Medicaid costs. Other states where unemployment soared were able to pay for people who lost employer-sponsored health insurance. The stimulus plan stipulated that they would lose the extra reimbursements if they cut their own spending on the program. For related story see [N1E75N0YO].
The boost became so vital to many states' budgets that when the funding expired last summer, Congress extended it with $16 billion until the end of this month. That money is now largely gone, which means states must cover a larger share of Medicaid expenses.
Here are some facts about the effects of the stimulus boost:
* The total amount given to states through the stimulus and the extension is estimated at $100 billion.
* Medicaid enrollment rose to 50.3 million in June 2010 from 42.3 million in June 2007
* States are reimbursed at least 50 percent of their Medicaid costs, and can be reimbursed as much as 74.73 percent.
* In the stimulus plan, all states received an increase of at least 6.2 percentage points in their reimbursement rates. Those with high unemployment got slightly more.
* In the extension passed last summer, the boost to the reimbursement rates dropped. All states received at least a 3.2 percentage point increase from January through March of this year and then a 1.2 percentage point increase from April through June.
* Most states used the money to address Medicaid budget shortfalls, pay for increases in enrollment, reduce general fund shortfalls, avoid benefit cuts, and put off cuts in the amounts of money paid to doctors and other care providers.
* In 2009, federal funds provided 62.4 percent of Maine's Medicaid spending, the highest federal share of all the states.
* Mississippi has the highest federal matching rate, 74.2 percent. Under the stimulus plan, its reimbursements reached a high of 84.9 percent.
SOURCES: The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, National Association of State Budget Officers, Reuters reports (Editing by James Dalgleish)