Washington D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) announced that she will be an original co-sponsor of the Medicaid Saves Lives Act, legislation that would create a federal Medicaid-style program for those living in states like Alabama that have refused to expand Medicaid. The bill, led by Reps. Kathy Manning (D-NC-6), Kathy Castor (D-FL-14), Nikema Williams (D-GA-5), Lucy McBath (D-GA-6), Marc Veasey (D-TX-33), Gwen Moore (D-WI-04) and Deborah Ross (D-NC-2), was introduced today.
“Improving access to quality, affordable health care continues to be one of my top priorities in Congress,” said Rep. Sewell. “Because of the State of Alabama’s refusal to expand Medicaid, at least 300,000 low-income Alabamians who would otherwise qualify for health insurance coverage are being forced to go without care, putting their health and their lives at risk.”
“This is simply unacceptable,” continued Sewell. “That’s why I’m proud to be co-sponsoring the Medicaid Saves Lives Act which would create a Medicaid-like program to cover hard-working Americans in states like Alabama that are putting politics above the lives of our people. This bill would help thousands of Alabamians see a doctor, obtain medications, and afford life-saving care.”
While the American Rescue Plan Act offered the 12 states—including Alabama—that did not expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act robust financial incentives to do so, it has become increasingly clear that many of these states do not plan to expand. This means 4.4 million low-income Americans will continue to be denied health coverage as communities across the nation are still working hard to recover. Americans who are most harmed by this inaction from state leaders are people of color: 60% of people in the coverage gap are Black, Hispanic, Asian, or Pacific Islander.
The Medicaid Saves Lives Act would address the coverage gap by creating a federal Medicaid look-alike program that is run and administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), providing the same full benefits of Medicaid. It would also add to the incentives in the American Rescue Plan Act by giving states additional and extended funding to expand Medicaid through a significant federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) increase. Since Congress already paid for Medicaid expansion in the Affordable Care Act, the federal Medicaid program in the Medicaid Saves Lives Act has already been funded once and should require no additional offsets.
Congress must pass the Medicaid Saves Lives Act to right away because this legislation would:
- Increase free and affordable health coverage to millions of Americans;
- Expand access to health care and provide access to preventative health services;
- Improve health outcomes and prevent premature deaths;
- Reduce uncompensated care costs which would reduce the number of hospital and provider closures; and
- Improve economic mobility that would enable low-income individuals to work.
This program created in the Medicaid Saves Lives Act would also include the robust Medicaid benefits provided under the Affordable Care Act such as:
- All essential health benefits;
- Non-emergency medical transportation;
- Prescription drug benefits;
- Coverage for rural health clinics and federally qualified health centers;
- Preventative services;
- Maternity and newborn care;
- Mental health and substance use disorder care; and
- Hospitalization services.
Companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Jon Ossoff (D-GA).
The Medicaid Saves Lives Act can be found on Congresswoman Sewell’s official web page.