By Guy Page
The pandemic-era 30% increase in federal Medicaid health insurance enrollment may please supporters of universal health care coverage, but not the governors of half of the states in the nation.
Republican governors Chris Sununu of New Hampshire and Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and 23 other governors – overwhelmingly Republican – yesterday asked President Joe Biden to end the federal Public Health Emergency. Gov. Phil Scott of Vermont was not among them. At his press conference today, Scott said he agreed with the letter in principle but thinks a bipartisan letter would be more effective. He also said he had to respond the day he first saw the letter, and would have liked more time.
The Dec. 19 letter notes the federal PHE has already been extended until January 11. Because the federal government promised cancellation after January 11 would be announced ahead of time – which hasn’t happened – the governors are asking that Biden announce the three-month extension through April be the last.
At issue is the huge growth in Medicaid funding under the federal PHE. Since the beginning of the pandemic, states have added 20 million individuals to the Medicaid rolls (an increase of 30%) and those numbers continue to climb as the PHE continues to be extended every 90 days, the governors say.
“The PHE is negatively affecting states, primarily by artificially growing our population covered under Medicaid (both traditional and expanded populations), regardless of whether individuals continue to be eligible under the program.”
The 25 governors acknowledge the federal funding helps cover health care costs, but say the state “match” has become burdensome to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.
While the enhanced federal match provides some assistance to blunt the increasing costs due to higher enrollment numbers in our Medicaid programs, states are required to increase our non-federal match to adequately cover all enrollees and cannot disenroll members from the program unless they do so voluntarily,” the governors say. “Making the situation worse, we know that a considerable number of individuals have returned to employer sponsored coverage or are receiving coverage through the individual market, and yet states still must still account and pay for their Medicaid enrollment in our non-federal share. This is costing states hundreds of millions of dollars.”
“It is time we move on from the pandemic and get back to life as normal,” the governors urged.
Categories: National News