FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 17, 2020
Washington, D.C. — Today, Congresswomen Nanette Diaz Barragán (Calif.-44) and Lizzie Fletcher (Texas-7) introduced legislation to protect millions of Americans at risk of losing their Medicaid healthcare coverage.
The Barragán-Fletcher bill would postpone the Trump Administration’s Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Regulation (MFAR) for two years. MFAR proposes a number of highly technical changes in the way state governments finance and report their Medicaid programs. It includes new restrictions on state payments that experts believe would lead to severe cuts to Medicaid programs in many states.
“Millions of Americans would lose access to healthcare if the Trump Administration’s MFAR is ever implemented. It is a backdoor attempt to weaken the federal Medicaid program. The result could be Medicaid eligibility restrictions and cuts in services in states across the country,” Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán said.
“If the rule goes into effect, more than 1 million patients in California could lose access to care. Los Angeles County officials estimate that the county may lose between $400 and $500 million in Medicaid funding each year, leaving our most vulnerable residents without healthcare,” Barragán explained. “L.A. County could lose thousands of hospital beds as a result of this rule. Hospitals are under severe financial strain as they treat COVID-19 patients. We should do everything we can to help them now, not make it harder for them to get Medicaid funding.
“Our communities cannot afford a drastic reduction in health care services during a global pandemic,” Barragán said.
“The proposed MFAR rule would put billions of dollars in federal funding that hospitals across Texas rely on to provide vital medical services at risk,” said Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher. “For years, Texas has worked closely with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to ensure transparency of matching funds, which I support, but this proposal would create an undue burden on health care providers and taxpayers across my state and across the country. As our communities face a global health crisis, we must do everything possible to ensure our hospitals have more resources – not less. I’m glad to introduce this legislation with Congresswoman Barragán to delay the implementation of this rule, and I will continue to work to ensure that Texans can get the care that they deserve.”
Earlier this year, the California Department of Health Services submitted its official comment on MFAR, writing: “The Proposed Rule, nearly in its entirety, is significantly flawed and would have devastating impacts to State programs and budgets. … the Proposed Rule would force States and their local public partners to make painful budgetary decisions, as it is simply not possible to replace all nonfederal share funds affected by the Proposed Rule with only State or local tax revenue. Such a result would stall the successful advancements made by States in implementing the Affordable Care Act and set Medicaid back many years at a time when its importance has never been greater as a safety net to millions of residents.”
The official comment from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities read: “The proposed rule would have a significant impact on how states finance their Medicaid programs, and could lead states to cut benefits and eligibility as well as provider payments, jeopardizing access to care for millions of Medicaid beneficiaries.”
Research by the American Hospital Association found that, nationally, the Medicaid program could lose between $37 and $49 billion annually.
“The magnitude of financial loss to the program as a result of this rule would force states to make untenable choices regarding eligibility, benefits and provider reimbursement. Each of these choices is fraught with negative consequences, such as: eligibility rollbacks that would thwart important public health interventions, reduced benefits that would adversely affect the quality of care, and reduced provider reimbursement that would jeopardize access to care,” the American Hospital Association wrote. “The impact in some states could be catastrophic.”
Nanette Diaz Barragán is proud to represent California’s 44th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Carson, Compton, Florence-Firestone, Lynwood, North Long Beach, Rancho Dominguez, San Pedro, South Gate, Walnut Park, Watts, Willowbrook and Wilmington.