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For Immediate Release

Friday, May 28, 2010

House of Representatives Puts Public Services and Jobs at Risk

Failure to Include Funds for Jobless Health Benefits and Medicaid Will Cause Mass Job Loss

Washington, DC — 

AFSCME today condemned the decision of the House of Representatives to drop the extension of federal matching funds for Medicaid and subsidized health benefits for the unemployed from the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act (H.R. 4213).

“Federal matching funds for Medicaid are an absolutely critical part of every single state budget,” said AFSCME Pres. Gerald W. McEntee. “Without it, hundreds of thousands of people will lose their jobs, vital state services will continue to be slashed to the bone and states will plunge deeper into crisis.”

In February, 47 state governors from across the political spectrum signed an urgent letter calling on Congress to extend the Medicaid matching funds. “Thirty states have already passed budgets that assumed Congress would do the responsible thing and provide these matching funds,” McEntee said. “By failing to include these needed resources, states will be forced into massive new waves of job cuts and service shutdowns.”

McEntee also criticized the House failure to extend the federal subsidy for COBRA health insurance for the unemployed. “This short-sighted decision is a serious blow to families who rely on the subsidy to help them pay for health insurance while they look for work.”

While the Congress is expected to bring up these issues again after the Memorial Day recess, McEntee said the delay will cause immediate problems in many states. “It is totally irresponsible for Congress to leave town without getting this job done,” McEntee said. “Working families want Congress to take our economic crisis seriously.  These delays make it much harder to rebuild our economy and put America back to work.”

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