Sign outside Medicaid political forum
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Bob Moon: The economic downturn means that cash-strapped states are trimming back their health care benefits -- those cuts often hit the poor and poor children the hardest. So Congress is considering legislation to temporarily boost federal funding for state Medicaid expenses. Marketplace's Steve Henn reports.

Steve Henn: Stan Dorn at the Urban Institute says for every one-point increase in the unemployment rate, roughly 1 million Americans lose their health insurance. Often, they turn to their state governments for help.

Stan Dorn: More people become poor enough to qualify for Medicaid, so that means the case loads go up. But at the same time, state revenues drop.

This year, 29 states face a total budget gap of $48 billion, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

Heather Howard is Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health:

Heather Howard: These new developments could not come at a worse time from a health care perspective.

Both the House and the Senate are considering bills to temporarily increase funding for Medicaid and children's health insurance. But Dorn says it time to try and craft a permanent fix -- one that would automatically send aid to states in trouble when the economy turns south.

In Washington I'm Steve Henn for Marketplace.