Please sign on to the letter below to show your organization's support of Medicaid. Organizations that have signed on will be listed publicly unless you indicate otherwise.
Dear Members of the Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation,
We, the undersigned organizations, see the harm that the current novel coronavirus, COVID 19, has caused across the state every day. It has both physically and financially devastated the communities we care about and that need our support. The resulting economic conditions have created a tremendous budget shortfall in our state that could, without additional support from the federal government, continue to harm Pennsylvania families and communities well into the future.
Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) have formed the backbone of our public health response to the pandemic. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, using mid-range estimates, over 1.64 million Pennsylvanians are expected to lose employer sponsored coverage due to COVID-19. As a result, the same study estimated 864,000 individuals will become eligible for Medicaid. At a time when our state faces unprecedented deficits and may continue to see losses for years, it is critical that federal lawmakers work to strengthen the federal/state partnership that forms Medicaid as they have done in previous crises. Therefore, we urge you to take the following measures:
Increase the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) beyond the across-the-board bump in the Families First Act to levels similar to what was enacted during the Great Recession. We appreciate the work that Congress did in the Families First Act by enacting an across-the-board 6.2 percent increase in the FMAP. Multiple sources estimate that this will add somewhere between $1.0 and $1.25 billion to the Pennsylvania state budget if applied to the entire 12-month period of 2020. This funding is important. However, during the Great Recession, Pennsylvania saw its FMAP increase by 10 to 12 percentage points. This means that the Families First Act only took us halfway. Comparatively, Pennsylvania would lose more than a billion dollars a year if Congress fails to further increase the FMAP as it did during the recession of 2001 and again in the wake of the 2007-2009 financial crisis. During these previous periods, Congress has employed a mixture of across-the-board increases and adjustments for unemployment conditions that ensure that hard hit states like Pennsylvania receive its fair share of federal resources.
Keep strong Maintenance of Effort requirements in place to protect vulnerable Medicaid beneficiaries. As in the Families First Act, and following past precedent, when the federal government has increased funding for Medicaid, it has also required states to keep their current benefits, eligibility criteria, and application process in place throughout the duration of the increase. This is a critical step to ensure that vulnerable populations do not see cuts to benefits like Home and Community Based Services, or barriers like a more difficult application process during a time when appropriate medical care is most needed.
Continue all funding through the duration of the economic downturn, not just through the end of the emergency declarations. We know that our state’s economy cannot rebound on a moment’s notice, and nor can our state’s budget. In previous crises, the federal government has ensured that its aid continues until such a time that state governments can resume their full participation in the Medicaid partnership. We ask that the federal government does not prematurely limit the availability of aid until the crisis has passed
Postpone the scheduled reduction in the CHIP enhanced match. Under the HEALTHY KIDS ACT, the 23-percentage point enhanced FMAP to CHIP programs was scheduled to be eliminated over two years, with the second half scheduled on October 1, 2020. Congress should delay this loss of CHIP funds by postponing the scheduled FY 2021 funding decline of 11.5 percentage points beyond the end of the public health emergency and through the end of the related economic downturn.
Consider more unrestricted funding to states and municipalities to offset cuts in our public health infrastructure. While all of these actions listed above would have an enormous impact on helping Pennsylvania rebound, it is critical that Washington consider additional aid to states and localities that would help offset unprecedented need.
States operate on balanced budgets, and without the kinds of assistance outlined above, Pennsylvania could be forced to cut Medicaid provider reimbursement, restrict eligibility to make ends meet in a time when hospitals could be stretched thin, or implement waiting periods on CHIP. Making Medicaid and CHIP less responsive at a time when they are most critically needed would be a mistake, and the federal government should do everything in its power to avoid that. Please fight hard for Pennsylvania and ensure that the above five items are included in any upcoming federal action.
Thank you for your time and consideration. If you have any questions, please contact Patrick Keenan, Policy Director for the Pennsylvania Health Access Network at (717) 322-5332 or at email@example.com.
Thank you for Signing On!
If you have questions, concerns, or don't want to be publicly listed, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.