Healthcare’s Piece of Stimulus Package: Medicaid, Uninsured, IT and More

Friday, February 20th, 2009
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

More than $150 billion of the $787 billion economic stimulus package — about 19 percent — will directly or indirectly impact healthcare delivery. The key items are summarized below, taken from an overall package summary created by the New York Times:

At the government site, you can read a full text of the legislation, track the distribution of these funds by federal agencies — even share how the (hoped-for) economic recovery is affecting you.

  • Help states with Medicaid costs: $87.1 billion: Increase the federal government’s contribution for Medicaid costs to help states close their budget gaps. The Senate favored a formula to distribute the money that is more beneficial to less-populous states, whereas the House voted for extra help for those that have experienced large increases in unemployment. The compromise bill splits the difference on formula changes between the House and Senate.
  • Health coverage under Cobra $25.1 billion: Subsidize 65 percent of the cost of premiums for jobless workers to keep group health coverage for nine months. Such workers would otherwise have to pay 102 percent of premiums, including the employer’s share. To be eligible, workers need to have been forced out of their jobs between Sept. 1, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2009. A provision in the House bill would have made Cobra health benefits available to workers on the job for more than 10 years and those over age 55 until they are eligible for Medicare, but it was not included in the final draft.
  • Incentives to Medicaid and Medicare providers to adopt health information technology $17.2 billion
  • Provide additional financing to the National Institutes of Health for research and infrastructure $10 billion Includes $8.5 billion for research grants, in areas such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and stem cells, and $1.5 billion to renovate research facilities.
  • Improve Defense Department facilities related to the quality of life $2.3 billion: Construct or repair child development centers, health clinics, barracks and dormitories.
  • Provide additional financing for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology $2.0 billion
  • Finance renovations and technology upgrade at community health centers $2.0 billion
  • Extend Transitional Medical Assistance program: $1.3 billion: Extend the program, set to expire in June, through 2010. The program provides temporary health care coverage to families who have become ineligible for Medicaid because of increased earnings.
  • Prevent cuts to healthcare providers $1 billion: Block Medicare payment cuts to teaching hospitals, hospices and long-term care hospitals. Apply prompt payment requirements to nursing facilities and hospitals participating
  • Make grants to help prevent disease $1 billion: Includes hospital infection prevention programs, immunization programs and preventive health grants
  • Train primary healthcare providers, including doctors and nurses: $500 million Also help pay medical school expenses for students who agree to practice in underserved communities.
  • Extend Qualified Individual Program $550 million: Extends the program to assist low-income individuals with Medicare Part B premiums through 2010. Medicare Part B helps cover medical services like doctors’ services and outpatient care.
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