KHI News Service

Extra Medicaid and school dollars for states advanced by U.S. Senate

Speaker to call U.S. House back from recess to speed passage of the aid package

By KHI NEWS SERVICE | August 04, 2010

U.S. House members were told today that their August recess will be interrupted next week and that they will be summoned back to Capitol Hill to vote on legislation meant to save the jobs of about 100,000 teachers nationwide and extend federal Medicaid help to states.

According to the Governor's Office, Kansas stands to gain almost $180 million from the bill, which this morning passed a key procedural hurdle in the U.S. Senate and now seems assured to become law after months of delaying tactics by Republicans and conservative Democrats worried about the measure's cost.

“I will be calling the House back into session early next week to save teachers’ jobs and help seniors & children,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said today in an announcement on Twitter.

She didn't name the date, but Democratic leaders were reportedly considering Monday, Aug. 9, or the day after for a possible return date for House members, according to CQ Healthbeat.

Keeping a close eye on the $131 million

The Senate on Wednesday voted 61-38 to advance H.R. 1586, which would funnel $16.1 billion to states for extended Medicaid assistance first approved as part of last year's economic stimulus but scheduled to run out Dec. 31. The bill also included $10 billion for states with the intention of avoiding more teacher layoffs due to lagging state economies.

Kansas would see $92 million for education jobs and $87.1 million in additional Medicaid dollars, according to the Governor's Office, if the bill becomes law as endorsed by the Senate.

Kansas budget writers earlier this year assumed Congress would approve extended aid to states and that Kansas' share would be at least $131 million. If the bill becomes law in its current form, it would mean considerably more money than Kansas lawmakers had anticipated.

Gov. Mark Parkinson and several fellow governors, Republican and Democrat, have for months urged Congress to move forward with the extended aid to states.

U.S. House members weren't scheduled to return to work until 2 p.m. Sept. 14.