Washington — The Partnership for Medicaid is announcing its support for the Coronavirus Medicaid Response Act, legislation that creates an automatic federal medical assistance percentage increase during an economic crisis.
In a March 12 letter to Sens. Bob Casey, R-Penn., and Catherine Cortez Masto, R-Nev., and Rep. Susie Lee, D-Nev., the coalition — which includes the ADA — said it was pleased to support the bill, which would provide an automatic federal medical assistance percentage increase to state Medicaid programs during an economic downturn, as measured by state unemployment levels. The bill also includes necessary maintenance of effort requirements to ensure states sustain eligibility, benefits and services to Medicaid populations during times of hardship.
“Vulnerable populations, in addition to the providers and organizations that support them, rely on the promise of Medicaid to achieve access to quality, affordable health care," the coalition said. "In the face of economic instability and uncertainty caused by COVID-19, the Medicaid program fulfilled its purpose by providing a lifeline to millions of Americans whose livelihoods were threatened by the pandemic.”
The groups also noted that Kaiser Family Foundation data indicated that during the pandemic, Medicaid enrollment has grown by more than six million individuals, translating to more than 77 million Americans relying upon Medicaid to meet their health care needs.
“By its nature, Medicaid is a countercyclical program; Americans who lose their jobs or who cannot access or afford health care coverage can turn to Medicaid in most states to fulfill their needs,” the coalition wrote. “This flexibility, while indispensable, carries a cost. Medicaid comprises large portions of state budgets. As evidenced by the COVID-19 crisis, states may spend more on Medicaid to meet the needs of their constituents while simultaneously seeing decreases in revenue-raising measures related to economic restrictions and shutdowns.
“Absent federal support, increased Medicaid expenses place additional strain on already strapped state budgets, especially during an economic recession. As a diverse coalition, the populations our organizations support often bear the brunt of the negative consequences that occur when states have insufficient funding to maintain their Medicaid programs. This often manifests in cuts to Medicaid eligibility, benefits or provider reimbursements.
“Fortunately, Congress acted as it has during previous economic recessions and provided an enhanced federal medical assistance percentage to help states support their Medicaid programs during the public health emergency,” the letter concluded. “By making that support automatic, your legislation would offer immediate certainty to states and Medicaid populations in the face of crises with unknown duration and scope. This stability is consequential to protecting access to care and other vital services for communities served by the Medicaid program.”
The Partnership for Medicaid is a nonpartisan, nationwide coalition made up of organizations representing clinicians, health care providers, safety net plans, counties and labor groups.
Follow all of the ADA’s advocacy efforts at ADA.org/advocacy.