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In Major Crises, Medicaid has been Expanded, Yet Trump Administration is Preventing States from Taking Action

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) called on the Trump Administration to use its existing authority to allow states to temporarily expand coverage and services under Medicaid in an effort to fight the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. In previous national emergencies, such hurricanes and the H1N1 outbreak, the federal government allowed states to flexibly use Medicaid to treat impacted individuals and stem the crisis. Thus far, the Trump Administration has refused to allow states to empower Medicaid in their effort to combat COVID-19.

In the letter, the senators wrote, “In a time of national crisis, public officials have a responsibility to do all they can to help the American people. There is no such thing as being over prepared in the face of a pandemic. We should not have to be asking our government to take these steps. The Trump Administration should be using every existing authority possible to ensure that Americans are protected from this virus.”

During the H1N1 flu crisis, HHS granted waivers that allowed providers to quickly see patients. In response to the lead contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan, in 2016, President Obama declared a state of emergency, allowing Michigan to receive a five year waiver under Section 1115 to expand coverage for pregnant women and children up to age 21 and with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). This action enabled women and children to access earlier interventions and help mitigate the impacts of lead exposure. 

In the aftermath of the events of September 11, 2001, New York was able to offer coverage to impacted individuals for up to four months through a simplified one page application. In 2005 when Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc in Mississippi and Louisiana President George W. Bush used Medicaid authorities to allow states to provide coverage to individuals who had to be evacuated to other states for up to five months.

A copy of the letter can be found here.


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