WASHINGTON - Representative Michael Capuano will vote yes on the sweeping health care package the House is set to take up on Sunday, the Somerville Democrat told the Globe.
Capuano voted for the measure in the House last year, but was wavering on the current version of the package, seeking assurances that it would be beneficial for Massachusetts. The Bay State, with its many hospitals and generous Medicaid coverage, has specific concerns Massachusetts lawmakers wanted addressed in the bill.
"The bottom line is, I'm convinced that Massachusetts' interests are not only protected, but actually enhanced," Capuano said. "Massachusetts would be getting a lot more protection and a lot more money than they would in the Senate bill alone." Capuano, who was in meetings until midnight Friday night on the bill, estimated that the state will get some $4 billion over a decade in various forms of federal aid and payments.
The Senate package included an extra $500 million over three years to help the Bay State pay its share of the Medicaid load. The money was put in the bill to make up for the fact that Massachusetts -- dubbed a "do-gooder state" by health care bill negotiators -- is already covering a broader base of low-income people under the federal-state Medicaid program than other states.
The Obama administration demanded that the money be taken out along with other "special deals" in the Senate bill. But the new language, while not singling out Massachusetts for special treatment, includes changes in the Medicaid formula to make up the money Massachusetts and other states will have to pay.
The state is expected to get about $2 billion in extra federal Medicaid payments in the next ten years alone, with $350 million a year minimum after that, according to officials who have examined the bill.
Boston Democratic Representative Stephen Lynch is the only declared "no" vote among the 10-member Massachusetts delegation.
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.