Shaheen Helps Introduce Legislation to Bolster Medicaid Coverage for COVID-19-Related Treatment

July 30, 2020

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) joined U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) to introduce legislation this week that would increase coverage for uninsured Americans receiving COVID-19-related treatment and vaccines through Medicaid. The Stronger Medicaid Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic Act directly responds to the increased need for health care resulting from the public health and economic crisis. The legislation builds on The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which provided Medicaid coverage for COVID-19 testing. The Stronger Medicaid Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic Act would allow Medicaid programs to pay for treatment, hospitalization, drugs and vaccines for individuals with COVID-19 who are uninsured. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic created an unprecedented health and financial crisis, which has exacerbated existing problems impacting Americans’ ability to access affordable health care services. This is especially true for those who are currently uninsured,” said Shaheen. “This bill would allow Medicaid to cover COVID-19 treatment costs for the uninsured and ensure that cost is not a barrier to care for those who are fighting this devastating virus. The bill gives states an incentive to take up this option by providing federal funding to reimburse states for the cost of this COVID-19 treatment for the uninsured. Combating this crisis requires an all-hands-on-deck approach, which is precisely why this legislation is urgently needed. No one should be denied lifesaving care because they cannot afford it.” 

Over 71 million individuals are enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP, providing essential coverage of health care services, like primary and preventive care, mental and behavioral health, and chronic illness treatment. Researchers estimate that more than 10 million people will lose employer-sponsored health insurance as a result of pandemic-related job loss in their household between April and December 2020. Just in the first three months of the pandemic, 5.4 million laid-off workers became uninsured. The Stronger Medicaid Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic Act would ensure that uninsured individuals can get access to Medicaid coverage for COVID-19 treatment and vaccine costs, regardless of whether they would qualify for other existing forms of Medicaid coverage.

The Stronger Medicaid Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic Act is supported by The Arc of the United States, Epilepsy Foundation, National Hispanic Medical Association, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, Families USA, National Immigration Law Center, National Health Law Program and People’s Health Clinic.

The bill text is available HERE. A one-pager is available HERE.

In May, Shaheen led 33 Senate Democrats in releasing a proposal to expand health care coverage and affordability during the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this month, Senator Shaheen introduced legislation with Senator Casey (D-PA) that 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.