At 9 a.m.: Day 5 of Public Impeachment Hearings

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    Medicaid boost could help state budgets

    Last year Congress agreed to temporarily chip in more to help states pay for health care, Now, President Obama is proposing to extend that aid a few extra months.

    Last year Congress agreed to temporarily chip in more to help states pay for health care, Now, President Obama is proposing to extend that aid a few extra months.

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    States and the federal government split the cost of providing care to low-income people through the Medicaid program. Last year, the feds increased the amount they pay to states as part of the stimulus plan. But that is set to expire in December.

    This week President Obama suggested that Congress extend the help an extra six months.

    Sharon Ward leads the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center. It’s a liberal-leaning research group that keeps tabs on the Commonwealth budget.

    Ward:It increases the federal share and that helps to prevent cuts in health care but that also gives the states like Pennsylvania a little bit more money so they can prevent cuts in education and libraries and prisons and other things.

    The increased Medcaid payments could mean an extra $850 million for Pennsylvania, and some policy experts expect Govenor Rendell to factor in – the extra money in his next budget expected out next week.

    But some Republican lawmakers warn that the funds are not guaranteed. The extension needs approval from Congress.

    Cumberland County Republican Pat Vance leads the state Senate health committee.

    Vance: Of course it would be welcome, but the Governor is not making that decision, the federal government is. So, it would be very difficult for us to count on it not knowing if it’s actually going to happen.

    Other Republicans warn that the federal stimulus funds will eventually run out. State Representative Matt Baker says Pennsylvania needs to tighten its belt now to deal with that looming reality.

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