During this difficult time of the pandemic, many people are losing their jobs and their employer sponsored health insurance. With loss of income and health care needs rising due to COVID-19, many Americans are turning to Medicaid for the first time. Just as many more Americans need Medicaid coverage, states are strapped by pandemic costs and may be forced to cut programs and services, including Medicaid. The federal government can step in and increase its portion financial contribution to states' Medicaid programs to ensure that all Americans have the health services they need.
The federal portion of Medicaid is referred to as Federal Medical Assistance Percentage or FMAP. Congress can do two things: increase the FMAP as part of the next COVID-19 federal aid package or pass legislation that would programmatically increase the FMAP as unemployment rates increase in the state. Senator Bob Casey has recently introduced S. 151, the Coronavirus Medicaid Response Act, and companion bill H.R. 1353 was introduced in the House by Rep. Susie Lee. These bills would create an automatic process to increase the FMAP when unemployment increases. Hence, they provide a systematic response and aid when states and individuals need it most, without relying on new legislation for a temporary increase.
Increasing the FMAP is not only important for the American public, it is vital for the 37 million Americans with kidney disease. Studies have shown that when people have access to primary care, they are most likely to learn of their kidney disease and take steps to address it. A study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology showed that for every additional 10% of the population covered by Medicaid (rather than being uninsured), there was a 1.8% decrease in kidney failure.* For these individuals, it means that they avoided dialysis. The federal government needs to support Medicaid as the states are looking at cuts because of their need to balance budgets.
Please contact your federal officials and request that they increase the FMAP and support legislation that would tie FMAP increases to unemployment rates.