Minnesota Congressional Delegation Urges Administration to Provide Flexibility for state Medicaid programs and Basic Health Programs

September 3, 2020
Press Release
Medicaid enrollment increased by over by 1.7 million people nationally during the initial months of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, and Representatives Jim Hagedorn (MN-01), Angie Craig (MN-02), Dean Phillips (MN-03), Betty McCollum (MN-04), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Tom Emmer (MN-06), Collin Peterson (MN-07), and Pete Stauber (MN-08) sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, urging the Administration to provide flexibility for state Medicaid programs and Basic Health Programs at the end of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“In order to avoid causing unnecessary confusion or encouraging enrollees to prematurely terminate their coverage under these programs, we believe that state Medicaid programs and Basic Health Programs should be given flexibility regarding these deadlines,” the lawmakers wrote.

“We respectfully request that you provide a flexibility period of at least 90 days after the termination of the Public Health Emergency for state Medicaid programs and Basic Health Programs to establish organized structures to notify enrollees who need to recertify their eligibility or who will no longer be eligible for coverage through these programs, and to allow those enrollees to take the steps necessary to document their continued eligibility.” 

Full text of letter HERE and below:

Dear Secretary Azar,

We write to respectfully request that you provide flexibility for state Medicaid programs and Basic Health Programs at the end of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency to help reduce confusion for enrollees in these programs. 

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which became law on March 18, provided a temporary increase to states’ federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) for the duration of the Public Health Emergency regarding the COVID-19 pandemic—which is currently scheduled to expire on October 22, 2020.  Like other states across the country, Minnesota submitted a series of waivers to bring its programs into compliance with these requirements and receive this enhanced FMAP—including a state plan amendment, Home & Community Based 1915(c) Appendix K waiver, and a Basic Health Program blueprint amendment. 

With Medicaid enrollment increasing by at least 1.7 million people nationally during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic, this enhanced FMAP has proven critical in helping state Medicaid plans support our most vulnerable citizens during the ongoing public health crisis.  Additionally, provisions accompanying the FMAP increase have ensured that people enrolled in Medicaid before the pandemic are able to remain on the program throughout the duration of the Public Health Emergency—including about 25,000 Minnesotans per month receiving care through the state’s Medicaid program and Basic Health Program, who would have otherwise had to reapply or recertify their eligibility for these programs, a process that is inherently difficult to complete during a pandemic.  

When the Public Health Emergency declaration ends, states receiving the enhanced FMAP are required to notify Medicaid and Basic Health Program enrollees whose coverage would have otherwise been terminated or who would have needed to reapply for these programs. States face different deadlines by which they must notify enrollees about upcoming changes in their coverage—with some deadlines coming as early as 75 days prior to expiration. 

In order to avoid causing unnecessary confusion or encouraging enrollees to prematurely terminate their coverage under these programs, we believe that state Medicaid programs and Basic Health Programs should be given flexibility regarding these deadlines. Therefore, we respectfully request that you provide a flexibility period of at least 90 days after the termination of the Public Health Emergency for state Medicaid programs and Basic Health Programs to establish organized structures to notify enrollees who need to recertify their eligibility or who will no longer be eligible for coverage through these programs, and to allow those enrollees to take the steps necessary to document their continued eligibility. 

Thank you for your time and attention to this important measure. We look forward to working with you to help ensuring that the American people are able to receive the certainty and health care coverage they need as we continue to address the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Sincerely, 

 

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