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Obama signs Medicaid funding extension

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WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Obama signed an extension of vital Medicaid funding, which was a top priority of the Jewish community.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted Tuesday to extend the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage, a formula used to determine how much Medicaid funding each state receives. Part of Obama’s economic recovery stimulus package, FMAP also helps fund education jobs. The president signed the bill that afternoon.

The six-month extension of FMAP had been a priority of the Jewish Federations of North America, as 60 cents on every dollar of public revenue brought in by the federations or their partner agencies comes from Medicaid.

Nearly $6 billion per year in government aid goes to Jewish hospitals, nursing homes, Jewish Family Service outposts and other social service agencies through Medicaid.

“Without these funds, states would have certainly cut back on their Medicaid programs, which would have had an adverse impact on how Jewish communal providers deliver needed care to their respective communities,” said William Daroff, vice president for public policy and director of the Jewish Federations of North America’s Washington office, in a statement.

Daroff added that he was concerned that the new funding was made possible by reductions to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which also has been a priority of the federations. However, as the reductions are not set to go into effect until 2014, Daroff said JFNA will work with Congress to find an alternative.

The FMAP money will prevent cuts that could have cost the Jewish community $150 million to $200 million in social services funding.

The Association of Jewish Aging Services, whose members often depend on Medicaid funding, applauded the bill’s passage.

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