news Spending Bill Revamps Pandemic Response, Medicaid Funding

A massive $1.7 trillion congressional spending package at the end of the year will revamp the country’s response to the pandemic and make major changes to Medicaid policy, among other health provisions.

The bill includes Senators Patti Murray (D-Wash.) and Richard Burr (RN. .C.) contains most of the bipartisan legislation.

The bill includes changes aimed at improving public health communication and data collection, accelerating the development of vaccines and treatments, and enhancing oversight of health agencies.

It would also make the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention a Senate-approved position.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has taught our country some painful lessons, and we will never repeat this to our families and communities,” Murray said in a statement. “We are pleased to include these important policies in our year-end omnibus.”

However, the appropriations bill would establish a bipartisan task force modeled after the 9/11 Commission to investigate the U.S. response to COVID-19 and the controversial subject of the origins of the pandemic. measures are specifically excluded. A partisan inquiry is underway in both chambers, frustrating public health advocates who fear they won’t get answers without an independent inquiry.

The appropriations bill also includes provisions that will save the government tens of billions of dollars, allowing the federal government to start pushing people out of pandemic-enhanced Medicaid coverage in April. As a result, the federal government will phase out additional funding that state governments have received since the earliest days. Pandemic.

Generally, states can redetermine whether recipients remain eligible for Medicaid at least once a year and exclude those who are no longer eligible. However, during the public health emergency, anyone who was eligible for Medicaid could continue to be enrolled.

Removing Medicaid coverage from public health emergencies was a major priority for Republicans, but it also gave state health officials certainty.

The public health emergency didn’t have a clear end date, so state Medicaid officials didn’t know when they had to start rolling Medicaid to figure out who was disqualified. .

“The constant need to do all these exercises and constantly revise assumptions creates real friction between state Medicaid agencies and some of their trusted partners and decision makers.” Medicaid Director National Association of.

“This advance notice is very important, considering that the Medicaid program has not redetermined in basically nearly three years, and if this has to start again, it will be a significant amount of work. I would,” said Rollins.

A portion of the money saved will help the state permanently extend a new mother’s Medicaid coverage for one year and entitle the child to Medicaid or children’s health insurance programs for an ongoing year. It will be used for long-sought Democratic priorities, such as allowing states.

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