public-policy newsletter

Bill Endorsement: Medicare Crisis Program Act

May 11, 2020

By Zachary Tashman

On May 1, Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Joe Kennedy (D-MA) introduced the Medicare Crisis Program Act (H.R. 6674) to address the growing number of uninsured Americans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This legislation would protect the health and well-being of millions of people by dramatically expanding access to Medicare and Medicaid. More than one-half of Americans have employer provided private health insurance, and with more than 33 million people filing for unemployment insurance in just the past two months, it is essential that the federal government reinforce the social underpinning of our healthcare system.

The Medicare Crisis Program would allow individuals that qualify for unemployment insurance to immediately enroll themselves and their family in Medicare Parts A & B. Those enrolled in this program would pay no premiums or cost sharing for COVID related testing or treatments. Enrollees would pay a coinsurance up to 5 percent of their monthly income for non-COVID care, as well as have the option to buy into Medicare Part D drug coverage or Medigap plans to cover non-COVID costs. This program would be available to participants until the economy recovers from the Coronavirus (defined as quarterly unemployment rate dropping below 5.6 percent) or they are able to obtain employment that offers health insurance. In addition to expanding Medicare coverage, this legislation would increase the federal matching rate for Medicaid for states and raise the Medicaid Expansion cap for states from 138 percent of the federal poverty line to 300 percent ($78,600 for a family of four). The bill would also require private insurers to cover the entire cost of COVID related testing and treatments for their enrollees.

The Medicare Crisis Program Act is an ambitious plan to keep families healthy and economically secure during this national emergency. Not only is the bill good policy it is also incredibly popular with the public. A recent Public Policy Poll found that 79 percent of Americans support expanding Medicaid during this crisis. The National Human Services Assembly is proud to have been one of the first organizations to endorse the Medicare Crisis Program Act and encourage our members to support this legislation as well.