Tester Introduces Bill to Bolster Montana’s Medicaid Program During Pandemic

Senator’s legislation would increase federal support for state’s Medicaid program

As states across the country face an economic downturn and Americans lose health care coverage due to job loss during the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Senator Jon Tester introduced the Coronavirus Medicaid Response Act, which would respond to the increased need for health care during the public health and economic crisis by creating a quicker process for supporting state Medicaid programs.

“Montanans have access to Medicaid’s health care safety net because our state chose to put the health of its citizens over the profits of the health insurance industry, and now it’s time for Congress to do the same,” said Tester. “As more Montanans turn to Medicaid for coverage because of the coronavirus pandemic, my legislation will support state health care programs so they have certainty when planning their budgets and so that folks across our state can continue to receive the health coverage they need.”

Tester’s legislation 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. Under current law, states rely on Congress to obtain any increase and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act passed a 6.2 percentage point FMAP increase for the duration of the public health emergency relating to COVID-19. This legislation would remove the necessity of Congressional action to increase the FMAP and allows decisions to be made solely on the economic needs of a state.

Tester has fought tooth and nail to ensure rural health care providers are not left behind during the pandemic. Last week, he introduced a resolution condemning the Trump Administration’s reckless effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which rural hospitals and clinics rely on to survive, and he has fought to expand and preserve telehealth access to help folks in rural Montana continue accessing health care during the outbreak.

Tester also sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar calling for quick relief for rural health care providers struggling to keep their doors open during the ongoing public health emergency. Recently, Tester delivered nearly $200 million in relief funding for 121 rural Montana hospitals, health centers, and clinics.

Visit tester.senate.gov/coronavirusresources for a list of resources for Montanans during the COVID-19 outbreak