WASHINGTON, DC – According to U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), Rhode Island stands to receive about $200 million in extra federal Medicaid money thanks to a recent move by the Biden Administration to extend the pandemic public health emergency (PHE) through the end of 2021.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) recently sent a letter to the nation’s governors informing them that the current public health emergency declaration, due to COVID-19, will likely last through 2021.  The letter also assured states the federal government will provide 60-day notice before ending the PHE declaration, thereby giving hospitals, health care providers, and states more budget certainty.  During the Trump Administration, Trump officials routinely waited until the last minute before extending the 90-day PHE, making it harder for states and health providers to plan for the future in a fiscally responsible manner.

“Hospitals, health providers, and states are working overtime to provide care and meet the needs of COVID-19 patients.  This prolonged federal funding boost and increased fiscal stability is a smart move that will help Rhode Island breathe a little easier as it provides critical COVID-19 care to those who need it most.  Given the current trajectory, the Biden Administration’s extended public health emergency action means Rhode Island will receive an additional $200 million this year,” said Senator Reed.  “Medicaid has critical public health benefits and helps people get back on their feet. This additional federal funding blunts the fiscal damage to the state, but it by no means covers it completely.  The state still faces difficult choices to make ends meet and provide lifesaving care for those who need it.  But this increased federal aid and certainty will help put the state on more stable fiscal footing.”

In March of 2020, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Public Law No. 116-127), enhancing the federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) match, which boosts the share the federal government pays for Medicaid costs by 6.2 percent, equating to an extra $180 million for Rhode Island in 2020.

The Rhode Island Department of Human Services’ Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) administers the Medicaid program for the state and is responsible for determining Medicaid eligibility in Rhode Island.

Medicaid is a federal and state-funded program that pays medical and health related services for eligible Rhode Islanders.  This includes inpatient and outpatient hospital care, preventive services, durable medical equipment, and many more services and benefits.

In prior years, the federal government provided Rhode Island about a 60.4% Medicaid match, a figure that increased to 66.6% under the emergency FMAP adjustment as a result of the Families First Act.

In order to receive the FMAP increase, states could not cut eligibility, add restrictive enrollment requirements, or raise premiums on those enrolled in the program.

Reed’s estimate for the additional federal funds for the state is based on an analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) and Urban Institute state expenditure projections.

The current PHE designation is in effect through April 21, and it can be renewed 90 days at a time, thereafter.