Capitol Correspondence - 10.31.23

Disaster Relief Medicaid Act Introduced to Address Healthcare Access During Emergencies

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Last week, the Disaster Relief Medicaid Act (DRMA), was introduced by Senator Casey (S. 3120) and Rep. Panetta in the House (H.R. 6029) in response to the growing frequency of climate-related disasters. This legislation addresses the pressing issue of health care access during emergencies and its impact on Medicaid recipients.

Climate-related disasters have forced millions of Americans to leave their homes, with over 3.3 million individuals displaced in 2022 alone. For Medicaid recipients, this relocation poses a significant challenge, as they risk losing access to essential health care services. This issue is particularly critical for older adults and individuals with disabilities who rely on state-administered Medicaid home and community-based services (HCBS) and often face waiting lists for these services.

The Disaster Relief Medicaid Act (DRMA) introduces the concept of “Relief-Eligible Survivors.” These individuals, residing in areas affected by disasters, would be designated to maintain their Medicaid coverage during emergencies. This designation is a response to the risk of losing vital health care services upon relocation.

DRMA also includes provisions for a temporary, 100%federal match for displaced individuals. It provides support to states to manage out-of-state recipients during crises and establishes an emergency response corps for HCBS.

Supporters of the legislation argue that the Disaster Relief Medicaid Act (DRMA) is a vital step toward safeguarding health care access for Medicaid recipients during emergencies. They contend that it offers a potential solution to address the challenges faced by individuals who are at risk of losing their health care and LTSS when forced to relocate due to disasters.

ANCOR has endorsed the Disaster Relief Medicaid Act, underlining the significance of DRMA in protecting the health care and LTSS needs of individuals with disabilities during emergencies. The legislation’s sponsors, including Senator Bob Casey and Senators Blumenthal, Welch, Van Hollen, Gillibrand, Warren, Brown, Sanders, Fetterman, Schatz, and Duckworth, emphasizes the dedication to addressing the critical issue of healthcare access during times of disaster. Encourage your representatives to take action.