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Harry Reid cuts Medicaid deal for Nevada

State would get full funding for first five years of expanded program

Las Vegas Sun, 09-22-2009 -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid secured a deal today that would give Nevada full, 100 percent funding in the Senate health care bill for an initial expansion of Medicaid.

The agreement reached with the committee chairman comes after Reid vowed last week to strike a better deal for Nevada before bringing any legislation to the floor.

Reid took heat from Republican Rep. Nathan Deal of Georgia who bemoaned the majority leader’s powerful reach into Senate negotiations to improve the bill for Nevada.

The deal would give Nevada full funding for the first five years of the program — an effort to ease concerns that Nevada would be unable to afford the federally-mandated expansion of care for the poor.

The Senate Finance Committee Chairman, Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, announced today that struggling states — particularly those with high unemployment rates — would receive the full funding for the first five years of the expansion. Nevada’s unemployment rate is the second highest in the nation.

Gov. Jim Gibbons said last week that the cash-strapped state should not be saddled with providing extra care for uninsured adults unless it is fully reimbursed, and the governor's office was wary of only temporary aid. Republican Sen. John Ensign has introduced a committee amendment to scrap the required expansion if it increases state budgets for Medicaid by more than 1 percent.

Nevada would have seen its annual expenditure on Medicaid grow by 5 percent annually — the second largest increase in the nation. The average annual increase for states was estimated at less than 1 percent.

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