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Senators Ossoff, Reverend Warnock, Baldwin Call on Senate Leadership to Address Medicaid Coverage Gap in Forthcoming Economic Package

Provisions would provide permanent, affordable health care to 4.4 million low-income Americans

Washington, D.C. – This week, U.S. Senators Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), co-sponsors of the Medicaid Saves Lives Act, called for Senate Leadership to include specific provisions of their legislation in the economic package, known as the Build Back Better Act, to address the Medicaid coverage gap and provide a permanent and immediate fix to close the gap in non-expansion states. The Senators urged that the provisions, which are currently included in the House’s version of the economic package, will create a permanent solution to close the Medicaid coverage gap, benefitting 4.4. million low-income individuals living in states like Georgia and Wisconsin that have not expanded Medicaid. The lawmakers also made clear that their proposal would be the “most effective policy to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities” in our country.

“We are thankful that providing support to Americans in non-expansion states and closing the coverage gap is a top priority, and we believe the House’s provisions will provide more Americans with quality, affordable health care coverage. Additionally, this is the most effective policy to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities and would be a major step towards decreasing the high rates of uninsured Americans in non-expansion states. By providing support to individuals living in non-expansion states, we are demonstrating a commitment to advancing racial equity,” wrote the lawmakers.

The lawmakers continued, “We do not believe that access to health coverage should be dependent on where you live or the political or partisan decisions of state politicians. People should not be penalized for living in states that continue to deny them Medicaid. Now is the time for action.”

The Senators are committed to expanding health care access to Americans with low incomes in the 12 states across the country that didn’t expand Medicaid, including Georgia and Wisconsin, and ensuring all Americans have access to affordable health care, especially during this once-in-a-century pandemic. Prior to the August recess, Senator Warnock led a series of Senate floor speeches spotlighting the stories of Georgians who would greatly benefit from Medicaid expansion. During the August in-state work period, Senator Warnock visited a Latino-centered community health center to discuss how Medicaid expansion will improve health outcomes with health professionals and patients that stand to benefit.

See the full text of the letter here and below.

Dear Leader Schumer and Minority Leader McConnell,

We write to respectfully request that the provisions to address the Medicaid coverage gap and provide a fix for non-expansion states in the Build Back Better Act, which were recently marked-up and approved by the U.S. House of Representatives, be included in the Senate version of the Build Back Better Act.

The House’s proposal creates a permanent solution to closing the Medicaid coverage gap and is specifically designed to benefit low-income individuals living in states that have not expanded Medicaid. We are thankful that providing support to Americans in non-expansion states and closing the coverage gap is a top priority, and we believe the House’s provisions will provide more Americans with quality, affordable health care coverage. Additionally, this is the most effective policy to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities and would be a major step towards decreasing the high rates of uninsured Americans in non-expansion states. By providing support to individuals living in non-expansion states, we are demonstrating a commitment to advancing racial equity. 

The House of Representatives’ proposal to address non-expansion states would provide affordable health care to 4.4 million low-income Americans, 60 percent of whom are individuals of color, immediately and permanently.  It is critical that the Senate version include the House language, which creates a federal Medicaid-like program based on our bill, Medicaid Saves Lives Act, S. 2315, that begins in 2025, along with immediate support to ensure these Americans receive more affordable coverage while the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) stands up the new program.

This program would provide all the same cost and coverage benefits as Medicaid — benefits that are not available on marketplace plans. Providing permanency would ensure stability for both the program and the individuals enrolled. Premature expiration of this program would limit HHS’ and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) ability to stand up this program and would have devastating effects on the health and wellbeing of enrollees. As CMS implements this program, we must also provide Americans access to health coverage immediately. Therefore, we further request that the Senate include provisions that expand tax credits below the 100 percent federal poverty line and provide robust cost-sharing provisions to address the high out-of-pocket costs that often prevent individuals from accessing care. These provisions will help ensure that those in the coverage gap can access affordable coverage right away.

We do not believe that access to health coverage should be dependent on where you live or the political or partisan decisions of state politicians. People should not be penalized for living in states that continue to deny them Medicaid. Now is the time for action.

Thank you for your attention to this matter, and we stand ready to work with you so we can finally fulfill our promise to the American people of providing quality, affordable coverage to everyone.

Sincerely,

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