Topkea, KS – Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson returned from a trip to Washington D.C. recently, where he and a coalition of governors urged Congress to extend federal payments that help support the Medicaid program.
The joint state/federal health program benefits aged, low-income and disabled Kansans.
Federal stimulus legislation has helped pay a bigger chunk of the program in recent years than usual. State lawmakers have assumed that would be extended, and built the funding into the state budget for this fiscal year.
At a press event outside the Statehouse last week, Parkinson said he hopes the trip helped convey how important he believes the funding is.
"We were at least effective in continuing to spread the message across the country that virtually every state needs this money," said Parkinson. "Now, whether that will result in the three or four additional votes we need in the U.S. Senate to get it passed, only time will tell."
Parkinson says not extending the federal funding would cost the state around $130 million. He says Kansas is in a better place financially than many states, but during a recession is not the time to cut spending on a program like this.
"I'm as upset about the fiscal irresponsibility of Congress as anybody else," Parkinson said. "But now is not the time for them to suddenly discover fiscal restraint. That time will need to occur when we come out of the recovery."
The extra federal funding is set to expire at the end of this year. Parkinson says without the money, state government will likely have to cut other programs to stay balanced, including education.