Georgia’s State Fiscal Year 2011 (SFY2011) already is facing challenges…and it doesn’t even begin until this Thursday, July 1.  The state legislative session which ended on April 29 saw dramatic budget cuts impacting education and other services for children and families.  To add insult to injury, Georgia suffers yet another blow resulting from failure to act by U.S. Congress.

Last week, the U.S. Senate failed to move the Federal Jobs Bill, which in part included a provision that would extend an enhanced FMAP to states for an additional 6 months.  For those of you who do not live and breathe health policy and its associated jargon, FMAP stands for Federal Medical Assistance Percentages. Basically, it’s a break down of how many Federal dollars Georgia receives to help pay for our state Medicaid program.  Given the high unemployment rate and dire financial situations that families in the U.S. were facing, in last year’s Federal Stimulus Bill, Congress instituted an increase in Federal match dollars to all states to help keep their respective Medicaid programs afloat.

Unfortunately, however, many families continue to struggle and Georgia’s financial situation is not much better now as compared to last year. In the recently passed budget for SFY2011, a significant portion of the funding for Georgia’s Department of Community Health was based on the expectation that the increased FMAP rate would be extended for an additional 6 months.  Without the enhanced FMAP, Georgia finds itself short $375 million dollars for SFY2011. Click here to read a policy brief by Georgia Budget and Policy Institute which further outlines this crisis.

Failure to extend the enhanced FMAP puts at risk the health of Georgia’s children enrolled in Medicaid and also puts at risk the fiscal health of our state.  Contact Senator Chambliss and Senator Isakson and urge them to act on behalf of children in Georgia. Remind them that now is a time when so many are looking to their leadership to help protect our wellbeing.

Joann Yoon, Assoc. Policy Director for Child Health

Voices for Georgia’s Children