Since the outset of the COVID-19 crisis last year, Medicaid has served as a vital safety net for millions of vulnerable Americans across the country. Now, as our country continues to make progress in the nationwide vaccination effort, it is important to look back on the many ways Medicaid has been there when we needed it most.
A Vital Safety Net Throughout a Public Health Crisis
The COVID-19 pandemic spurred an unprecedented economic and public health crisis in the U.S., directly impacting the health and financial security of nearly all Americans.
Facing financial difficulty amidst a global pandemic, millions of Americans turned to Medicaid as their safety net. Between December 2019 and June 2020, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) enrollment increased by nearly 6% nationwide. Looking ahead, as a result of the economic impacts of COVID-19, an additional 5.03-10.25 million people are projected to enroll in the Medicaid program through December 2022.
Helping Patients and Curbing the Spread of the Virus
Medicaid and Medicaid managed care programs played a significant role in helping Americans throughout the crisis by working to curb the spread of the virus. These actions included facilitating access to COVID-19 diagnostic testing, treatment, and vaccines, expanding access to telehealth and behavioral health services, and partnering in local communities to support at-risk populations and overcome social barriers to good health. By widening access to much-needed care during an unprecedented crisis, these efforts are helping to further reduce racial disparities in health coverage.
Additionally, with COVID-19 vaccines now available nationwide, Medicaid programs are playing a significant role in supporting the vaccine roll-out by offering providers technical assistance and educating patients to encourage vaccination. Medicaid managed care organizations are spearheading efforts to get more Americans vaccinated as well, including millions of America’s most at-risk seniors living in vulnerable and underserved communities.
Strengthening Medicaid Now and For the Future
COVID-19 has made clear that Medicaid is more vital to Americans than ever before. Looking ahead, strengthening the program must be a priority for policymakers.
Protecting Medicaid is a bipartisan issue, with 4 in 5 voters (80%) saying that increasing funding for Medicaid amid COVID-19 should be a priority for Congress, including a bipartisan majority of Democrats (92%) and Republicans (68%). We must ensure Medicaid is strong and stable to support the growing number of Americans relying on the program and ensure the overall health care system is resilient for the future.
For more information about how Alliance partners are supporting at-risk communities through the pandemic, including impactful initiatives from the Patient Advocate Foundation and Nurse-Family Partnership, check out our Medicaid Spotlight initiative.