First of all, thanks to all of you who made phone calls yesterday to your U.S. House members urging them to pass HR 1586, which in part provides for additional federal dollars to help fund state Medicaid programs and also to help protect jobs in education. Your persistence in advocating on behalf of children paid off, as the House voted 247 to 161 to approve the bill, which was signed into law by the President earlier today.

Georgia now stands to receive an estimated $228 million in enhanced FMAP (which the most loyal of our blog readers now know is the amount of federal match dollars for Medicaid) and additional dollars to help protect teacher jobs within Georgia. 

One hurdle has now been cleared, but still others remain.  For one, while $228 million definitely helps fill the gaping hole in our current state budget, we still need about $150 million more to maintain a balanced budget.  Second, the additional funding for Medicaid and education was paid for, in part, through cuts in benefits within the food stamps program.  This is problematic, particularly given the current unemployment rate and overall economic downturn in Georgia.  Many of the families who rely on Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids to cover their kids are the same families who rely on food stamps to help feed their kids.  Cuts in food stamps benefits are not slated to begin until 2014, however, which does give us some time to advocate for restorative funding for this program.

While looking forward we may feel overwhelmed as we see obstacles that remain before us, looking back we should feel encouraged by all the hurdles we’ve already managed to overcome.  We simply need to maintain our stride. 

Joann Yoon, Associate Policy Director for Child Health

Voices for Georgia’s Children