Modern Medicaid Alliance Highlights Harm to Tens of Millions of Americans if Congress Fails to Increase Medicaid Funding

Washington, DC – (September 14, 2020) – Modern Medicaid Alliance partners are calling on Congress to increase funding for Medicaid amid the COVID-19 crisis as negotiations around the pending COVID-19 relief package continue. Increased federal funding, specifically increasing states’ Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP), is urgently needed to continue delivering care and services critical to the growing number of Americans enrolled in Medicaid amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Medicaid has been a safety net for millions of Americans during this unprecedented crisis. If Congress does not increase FMAP funding, concerning cuts to high-quality, affordable health care services could result and would only exacerbate the health disparities faced by minority communities today.” – Dr. Elena Rios, President & CEO, National Hispanic Medical Association

State and health care leaders agree that there is one essential action Congress must take to protect these Americans: increase states’ Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) by at least 12 percentage points. Continued Congressional inaction to increase Medicaid funding could lead to devastating consequences for America’s most at-risk populations, such as:

  • Less access to care for America’s children, due to lower payments to children’s hospitals and providers.
  • Fewer older Americans able to stay in their homes and communities, as programs reduce or eliminate home and community-based services and supports (HCBS) for older Americans.
  • Longer waitlists for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as home care, group day activities and long-term residential support may be eliminated.
  • Decreased access to behavioral health and substance use disorder programs, 21% of which are paid for by Medicaid, due to cuts to program funding at the same time that opioid overdoses are skyrocketing across the country.

“Finding new ways to safely care for children who need ongoing support and treatment has been a challenge throughout the pandemic: however, nurses, counselors and care-facilities that specialize in children’s care have been innovating to meet that challenge. For over 30 years Medicaid has supported school-based health services provided by school nurses and other Specialized Instructional Support Personnel, allowing for effective and efficient provision of health services directly in schools where children spend most of their day, thereby supporting better school attendance. Research data demonstrate that children eligible for Medicaid are less likely to drop out of high school and are more likely to earn a college bachelor’s degree. Yet states are now considering cuts that would threaten critical children’s healthcare services offered through school-based programs for preventive and behavioral health and hospitals and would reduce and walk back enhancements for postpartum coverage. By increasing FMAP funding today, Congress can make sure these cuts don’t happen and our kids have continued access to critical services that support both health and learning.” – Laurie Combe, President, National Association of School Nurses

“Medicaid plays a crucial role in supporting people with disabilities getting the services they need to live in the community. But with states looking at, and in some cases implementing, drastic cuts to the program due to COVID-19, vital supports for people with disabilities, including in-home services and adult day programming may be eliminated. Congress must increase FMAP funding to ensure that America’s most at-risk do not lose access to the services they desperately need.” – Nicole Jorwic, Senior Director of Public Policy, The Arc of the United States

“Older Americans are facing unprecedented challenges during the current pandemic and Medicaid home and community-based services (HCBS) have been a lifeline for millions of otherwise isolated or vulnerable Americans age 65 and over. We urge Congress to increase FMAP funding to preserve these vital in-home supportive services that allow older adults to live as independently as possible in the safety of their homes. When states are financially stretched as they are now, HCBS is often the first to be cut, stranding older adults and ultimately costing taxpayers more in the form of higher Medicare and other health costs.” – Sandy Markwood, CEO, National Association of Area Agencies on Aging

As the COVID-19 crisis continues, more Americans are relying on Medicaid for access to affordable, high-quality health care. Even by conservative estimates, Medicaid enrollment has increased by more than  2.3 million people – 3% nationwide. At the same time, state revenues have dropped dramatically, and, in total, state budget shortfalls are projected to reach $555 billion through 2022.

To address these budget shortfalls, governors and state legislatures across the country are considering drastic state-level cuts to Medicaid that will impact millions of Americans who depend on the program, including women, children, people with disabilities, Americans 65+, and hardworking adults newly enrolled due to job loss. A significant portion of these adults in particular are able to enroll in the program as a result of Medicaid expansion, and represent some of the hardest hit community members like frontline workers and those with higher rates of substance use disorders and behavioral health concerns, many of whom are racial and ethnic minorities.

Over the past 50 years, Medicaid has played a critical role in helping Americans when they need it most and has acted as a safety net for millions of women, children, veterans, people with disabilities, older Americans and workers to receive high-quality, cost-effective care. Support for Medicaid is a bipartisan issue. Recent polling found that 83% of voters think increasing funding for Medicaid amid COVID-19 should be a priority for Congress, including a bipartisan majority of Democrats and Republicans.

The Alliance — which includes national and local organizations from across the country — is a partnership between Americans who value Medicaid and leading advocacy organizations that works to educate policymakers and the public about the positive benefits and results of the Medicaid program. The Modern Medicaid Alliance remains committed to working with Congress to support a Medicaid program that contributes to a stronger America.

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About the Modern Medicaid Alliance: The Modern Medicaid Alliance is a partnership between Americans who value Medicaid and leading advocacy organizations. Our mission is to educate policymakers and the public about the benefits of Medicaid to the American people in terms of cost savings, health outcomes and social impact, and to highlight how Medicaid is innovating in the delivery of care – especially for America’s most vulnerable citizens – and accountability of the program. 

For Modern Medicaid Alliance updates visit www.modernmedicaid.org and data.modernmedicaid.org, and follow us on Twitter @modernmedicaid or www.facebook.com/modernmedicaid