Rendell sounds alarm over federal funds

    Pennsylvania governor joins lobbying for Medicaid money

    Hours after agreeing to a Pennsylvania state budget that counts on $850 million in federal Medicaid money, Gov. Ed Rendell trekked to Washington to beg Congress to approve the funds.

    At issue are billions in extended federal funding for medical assistance programs for the poor and disabled.

    New health care rules prevent the state from reducing benefits, so if Congress doesn’t vote for the money, Rendell says Pennsylvania will have to make $850 million in cuts.

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    Rendell joined Republican and Democratic governors in a Washington news conference to predict horrific consequences if Congress fails to act.

    In Pennsylvania, Rendell said, the cuts would close 18 state parks, slash child welfare services and eviscerate local school districts.

    “We would lose an additional 7,300 teachers in Pennsylvania, causing an increase in class size, causing the closing of schools,” Rendell said.

    Republican concerns about the federal deficit make the prospects for a congressional extension of the Medicaid funding uncertain at best.

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