Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

Govs Press For More Money on Real ID, Medicaid

by Eric Kelderman and Daniel C. Vock, Staff Writers

Governors sent a message to Congress and the next president that they are unhappy with federal standards to make driver’s licenses more secure and with a batch of new Medicaid rules that could cost them $13 billion over five years.

Despite changes designed to lower the cost of the 2005 Real ID Act, governors attending an annual meeting of the National Governors Association voted unanimously Sunday (Feb. 24) to object to and continue to call for full funding of the driver’s license measure, estimated to cost $4 billion.

Congress has appropriated $90 million to help states electronically verify the identity of an estimated 245 million drivers and reissue secure licenses. The law is meant to keep driver’s licenses out of the hands of terrorists and illegal aliens and was passed by Congress in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001….

The governors also agreed Sunday to ask Congress for a one-year reprieve from new Medicaid rules that the Bush administration argues will better focus money spent on the health insurance program for the poor. State officials and health providers vigorously oppose the changes, which they say will shift $13 billion in costs over five years to states at a time their own budgets are facing deficits because of the economic downtown.

“With states facing an aggregate shortfall of $30 billion to $40 billion (next year), that’s very difficult to absorb,” said Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas (R).

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