June 30, 2020

Cortez Masto Cosponsors Bill to Strengthen Medicaid for States Hit Hard During Economic Downturn

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) today joined Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.) in introducing legislation that would automatically bolster the health care safety net during times of fiscal crisis, thereby protecting health care coverage for the most vulnerable Americans. The Coronavirus Medicaid Response Act would create automatic triggers that increase the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP), or the share of Medicaid costs borne by the federal government, based on each state’s unemployment condition. The companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives earlier this year by Nevada Representative Susie Lee (D-Nev.-03).

“Nevada’s economy has suffered severely during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Senator Cortez Masto, “and it’s crucial to do everything we can to protect the health of citizens who are out of work and need to rely on Medicaid during this difficult time. This bill makes sure that federal resources automatically flow to the people who need them the most in a crisis.”

“No state has been more devastated by the coronavirus pandemic than Nevada,” said Representative Lee. “That is why I introduced the Coronavirus Medicaid Response Act in April, which increases emergency federal aid for Medicaid programs as state unemployment rates worsen. Senators Cortez Masto, Casey, and Brown agree that this critical initiative needs to become law, which is why they introduced the Senate version of this bill. As more and more Nevadans experience not only job loss, but health insurance loss, our legislation would ensure that states’ Medicaid funding is covered. As a result, more Nevadans will have health coverage without using state funds that support other critical public services. This includes relief for our schools, hospitals, firefighters, and other essential services and workers. Our communities can’t wait a minute longer for this critical aid. I look forward to working with my Senate and House colleagues to get this bill through Congress and onto the President’s desk.”

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.

Costs associated with increased enrollment will be borne by both the state and the federal government. Senator Cortez Masto voted for the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which increased the federal share of funding, known as the FMAP, by 6.2 percent nationwide for the duration of the public health emergency. The Coronavirus Medicaid Response Act would enhance the FMAP and tie its expiration to a state’s economic conditions, which are a better indicator of increasing Medicaid enrollment. 

###