Rep. Lee Spearheads Letter Urging Congress to Increase Federal Funding for State Medicaid Programs During COVID-19

August 6, 2020
Press Release

Las Vegas, Nev. – U.S. Rep. Susie Lee (Nev.03) led a letter co-signed by 35 of her House colleagues urging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.-12), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.-23), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) to include in the next COVID-19 stimulus package a temporary increase to federal funding for state Medicaid programs to ensure health care access for families during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The letter calls on congressional leadership to include a temporary emergency increase of the Medicaid Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP), or the share of Medicaid costs covered by the federal government, of 14 percentage points.

The full text of the letter can be found below and HERE: 

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Leader McCarthy, and Leader Schumer, 

As the Senate and the House of Representatives work to finalize the COVID-4 package, we urge you to include a temporary increase of the Medicaid Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) of 14 percentage points over the 12 months of the state fiscal year that began July 1, 2020. This emergency increase in FMAP is urgently needed to put our nation on a path to recovery and is strongly supported by our nation’s governors, counties, cities, and towns on a bipartisan basis. 

As you know, Medicaid was created in 1965 as a partnership between the federal government and the states to ensure that vulnerable populations have access to health care and other essential services. Medicaid was also designed to respond to economic crises, serving as a critical safety net for people who lose coverage due to job loss. The ongoing public health emergency created by COVID-19 is precisely the type of national crisis that the Medicaid program is suited to address.   

In acknowledgement of the vital role that Medicaid plays in supporting low and middle-income families across the country, Congress temporarily increased the Medicaid FMAP by 6.2 percentage points in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201). This legislation included essential maintenance of effort and coverage protections to prevent states from cutting eligibility and current participation in their current Medicaid programs, which also must be continued.   

The 6.2 percentage point increase included in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act was just a beginning. As unemployment remains at record levels, the public health emergency continues, and states face dangerous budget shortfalls, more needs to be done to ensure that states and providers have the resources they need to meet the growing demand on their health care systems and that individuals can access the comprehensive coverage and care they need during this crisis.  

As you know, in May, the House passed the HEROES Act (H.R. 6800) which would increase FMAP by a total of 14 percentage points through June 30, 2021. The National Governors Association, National Association of Counties, National League of Cities, National Conference of State Legislatures, Council of State Governments, U.S. Conference of Mayors, provider and patient groups, and other advocates across the country have sent letters outlining the need for additional federal Medicaid funding during this crisis.  We urge you to heed this request and include an emergency 14 percentage point increase of the Medicaid FMAP in the next COVID response package. 

Thank you for your attention to this important issue. 

BACKGROUND: Thirty-five members of Congress signed onto Rep. Lee’s letter, a full list of whom may be found in the letter HERE.

Rep. Susie Lee has led the charge in Congress to increase federal assistance for state and local governments, including state Medicaid programs, in response to Nevada facing a $1.2 billion budget deficit because of fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

In April 2020, she introduced legislation to increase critical federal aid for Medicaid programs as state unemployment rates worsen. The bill would create automatic triggers that increase the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP), or the share of Medicaid costs borne by the federal government, based on each state’s unemployment condition.

In May 2020, the House passed the Heroes Act (H.R. 6800), which would increase FMAP for all states by a total of 14 percentage points through June 30, 2021.