Modern Medicaid Alliance Urges Congress to Increase Medicaid Funding through Pending Coronavirus Stimulus Bill

(August 5, 2020): The Modern Medicaid Alliance issued the following statement today: Modern Medicaid Alliance partners are renewing our call for increased funding for Medicaid amid the COVID-19 crisis in response to the negotiations around the pending COVID-19 relief package. Increased federal funding through the pending coronavirus stimulus and relief package is urgently needed to continue delivering care and services critical to the growing number of Americans who rely on Medicaid.

In a letter to Congressional leaders on July 1st, nearly 40 Alliance partners called on Congress to provide increased funding for the Medicaid program by enhancing states’ Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) in pending and future COVID-19 relief packages.

The Alliance specifically recommends enhancing federal financing for Medicaid by increasing states’ Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) by at least 12 percentage points, consistent with the request made by the bipartisan National Governors Association. We urge Congress to heed this call to action and meet this critical funding need through the pending coronavirus relief package.

More than 40 million people have lost their employment since March, and a recent study estimates that nearly 27 million Americans have lost their employer-sponsored insurance. According to the same study, almost half of the men, women, and children who have lost coverage are now eligible for Medicaid.

Significant increased enrollment in the program is occurring at the same time that already-strained state budgets are dramatically reduced because of the economic downturn and loss of tax revenue.

“The COVID-19 crisis has reinforced the importance of Medicaid in the lives of millions of Americans most at risk in the face of the pandemic, including people with disabilities, low income adults and Americans 65+ who have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Nicole Jorwic, Senior Director of Public Policy at The Arc of the United States. “At this critical juncture, Congress has the opportunity to strengthen this vital program by increasing funding for Medicaid during the ongoing crisis.”

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 vulnerable populations to receive high-quality, cost-effective care. As a countercyclical program, Medicaid enrollment and spending rise as unemployment increases. Today, Medicaid enrollment is growing and expected to continue trending upward due to the COVID-19 crisis.

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.

“In addition to the general FMAP increase, targeted increased funding is needed for Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS),” said Dr. Julie Christensen, Director of Policy & Advocacy for the Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE). “Millions of people with disabilities, Americans 65+, and their families rely on the Medicaid system to support them to safely live and work in their homes and communities – these services are critical not just to decrease utilization of expensive congregate settings, but also in recognition of the significant health risks experienced in nursing home and similar group settings.”

“COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on communities of color, which already had less access to health care before the pandemic,” said Linda Goler Blount, President and CEO of the Black Women’s Health Imperative. “Medicaid is a lifeline for so many people right now and is playing a significant role in addressing the serious structural barriers to accessing healthcare for Black and Brown populations and for low income people. We call on Congress to increase funding for Medicaid and help Americans get through this unprecedented time.”

“Medicaid programs are currently offering additional services at low or no cost to support patients — especially vulnerable populations — and help stop the spread of the disease,” said Dr. Elena Rios, President and CEO of the National Hispanic Medical Association. “These actions include eliminating patient cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing and, in many cases, treatment, covering the cost of telemedicine services, and ensuring access to prescription medication so patients can continue to address their health concerns during this time.”

“Medicaid funding is critical to overcoming the COVID-19 crisis and ensuring economic stability for millions of American families,” said Dr. Lynda Gargan, Executive Director of National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health. “We urge Congress to rise to the challenge of protecting Americans – including the 45 million children served through Medicaid and CHIP – and take immediate action to strengthen America’s Medicaid program in pending and future COVID-19 relief packages.”

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 news and updates, visit www.modernmedicaid.org and data.modernmedicaid.org, and follow us on Twitter @modernmedicaid or www.facebook.com/modernmedicaid