This morning’s managers amendment to the merged Senate health bill goes a long way towards satisfying the demands of Democratic hold-out and all-important 60th vote Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE).
Nelson has recently complained that the proposed expansion of Medicaid to those earning below 133% of the Federal Poverty Line (FPL) would burden his state of Nebraska and suggested that states should be able to opt-in to the program.
Under the current merged legislation (the version unveiled on November 18th), the federal government fully finances care for the expanded population for two years and increases its matching funds (known as FMAP) thereafter. Page 98 of the managers amendment specifically identifies Nebraska for higher federal matching funds, fully funding its expansion:
‘‘(3) Notwithstanding subsection (b) and paragraphs (1) and (2) of this subsection, the Federal medical assistance percentage otherwise determined under subsection (b) with respect to all or any portion of a fiscal year that begins on or after January 1, 2017, for the State of Nebraska, with respect to amounts expended for newly eligible individuals described in subclause (VIII) of section 1902(a)(10)(A)(i), shall be determined as provided for under subsection (y)(1) (A) (notwithstanding the period provided for in such paragraph)
Subsection (y)(1)(A) refers to page 399 of the original merged Senate legislation which fully funds state Mediciad expansions for the first two years. The manager’s amendment also provides 2.2% increase in FMAP to help states finance their existing Medicaid programs.
During a press conference, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said that the increased funding for Medicaid was a “minor point” in winning Nelson’s vote.