February 26, 2021

Cortez Masto, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Support State Medicaid Programs During an Economic Crisis

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), and U.S. Representative Susie Lee (D-Nev.-03) introduced 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.

“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.” 

“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.”

 “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 Representative 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.”

Background: 

As the economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus continues, millions more Americans are expected to lose their health insurance. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, states like Nevada that opted to expand Medicaid will cover thousands of newly unemployed or underemployed families on the program’s rolls.

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, Nevada would receive about $215 million in additional Medicaid funding per quarter.

Read more about the Coronavirus Medicaid Response Act here.

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