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Bill Would Increase Medicaid Funding for Americans Experiencing Unemployment Due to COVID-19

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and U.S. Representative Susie Lee (D-NV-03) are introducing the Coronavirus Medicaid Response Act. This legislation would respond to the increased need for health care during the public health and economic crisis by creating a quicker and more responsive process for supporting state Medicaid programs. It would address fluctuating demand in states for Medicaid by automatically connecting the Medicaid Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) to state unemployment levels, so that additional federal aid would ebb and flow with a state’s economy.

“For more than 50 years, the Medicaid program has played a vital role in providing health coverage to low-income Americans and serving as a safety net for those who lose health insurance due to job loss. Due to the economic crisis caused by COVID-19, millions of Americans who are unemployed are turning to Medicaid for health care coverage—placing more pressure on already strained state budgets,” said Senator Casey. “The Coronavirus Medicaid Response Act would guarantee an increase in federal Medicaid funding during an economic downturn, giving states reliability when planning their budgets and protecting health coverage for people with Medicaid during difficult times.”

“Many Nevadans who are still out of work as a result of the coronavirus pandemic are relying on Medicaid to keep them and their families covered,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “We need to be doing everything we can to support this vital program, and an important step is to ensure that states in crisis can automatically access Medicaid resources and funding without delays or political maneuvering. Medicaid provides a lifeline for so many in Nevada, and I’m proud to cosponsor this bill to improve its responsiveness during challenging times.”

“With unemployment levels through the roof at a time when families need health care the most, we must ensure that we’re adequately funding Medicaid,” said Rep. Lee. “When it comes to funding a vital service like Medicaid, we can’t start from scratch each time a crisis hits. We need to be prepared. This bill will create a quicker and more responsive process for supporting state Medicaid programs by automatically connecting Medicaid funding to state unemployment levels, so that federal aid would ebb and flow with a state’s economy. This is especially critical for states like Nevada, where our economy has been ravaged by the pandemic.”

“Medicaid is the backbone of the American health care system, covering one in five people and allowing millions to receive long-term care, mental health services, substance abuse treatment and much more,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders. “But when the nation faces a joint health and economic crisis like the current one, job and revenue loss causes Medicaid funding to shrivel at exactly the moments when the program is needed most. Sen. Casey’s, Cortez Masto’s and Rep. Lee’s legislation, by automatically triggering increases in federal Medicaid investments any time state unemployment rates rise to a certain level, would help the nation recover from this pandemic and enhance the health security of working families even in the worst of times.”

“The Coronavirus Medicaid Response Act is an important piece of legislation that would have the triple benefit of helping to lessen the severity of recessions, improve health coverage and prevent damaging cuts to education and other priorities. It extends a bipartisan approach to expanding federal support for Medicaid in economic downturns that was pursued by President Bush and President Obama and has been supported by economists across the political spectrum, making it a permanent feature of our economic policy going forward,” said Jason Furman, Former Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama, Professor of the Practice of Economic Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and the Department of Economics at Harvard University.

In order to ensure accuracy, a state’s FMAP increase would be calculated based on Local Area Unemployment Statistics collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and modified based on prospective and retrospective analysis. The Center on Budget on Policy Priorities (CBPP) estimates that if this bill were enacted during a downturn, Pennsylvania would receive approximately $2 billion and Nevada would receive about $215 million in additional Medicaid funding per quarter.

The Coronavirus Medicaid Response Act is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Mark Warner (D-VA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Tina Smith (D-MN), Gary Peters (D-MI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jon Tester (D-MT), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Angus King (I-ME) Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Tom Carper (D-DE).

The Coronavirus Medicaid Response Act is cosponsored by U.S. Representatives Steven Horsford (D-NV-04), Juan Vargas (D-CA-51), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ-03), Dina Titus (D-NV-01), Gwen Moore (D-WI-04), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA-44), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL-23), Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14), André Carson (D-IN-07), Michael F.Q. San Nicolas (D-GU), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Steve Cohen (D-TN-09), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI-13), Jahana Hayes (D-CT-05), Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS-02), Dwight Evans (D-PA-03), Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL-20), Madeleine Dean (D-PA-04), Mondaire Jones (D-NY-17), John B. Larson (D-CT-01), Jesús G. "Chuy" García (D-IL-04), Angie Craig (D-MN-02), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-09), Adam Smith (D-WA-09), Judy Chu (D-CA-27), Betty McCollum (D-MN-04), Scott Peters (D-CA-52), Danny K. Davis (D-IL-07), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ-11), Suzan DelBene (D-WA-01), Terri A. Sewell (D-AL-07), Susan Wild (D-PA-07), Adam Schiff (D-CA-28), Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH-02), Lois Frankel (D-FL-21), Tim Ryan (D-OH-13), Gregory Meeks (D-NY-05), Katie Porter(D-CA-45), Joyce Beatty (D-OH-03), Debbie Dingell (D-MI-12), Kim Schrier, M.D.(D-WA-08), Ami Bera (D-CA-07), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03), Derek Kilmer (D-WA-06), Thomas R. Suozzi (D-NY-03), Joe Neguse (D-CO-02) and Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D-CA-36).

Read more about the Coronavirus Medicaid Response Act here.