WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) joined Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) to reintroduce a bill that would increase coverage for uninsured Americans receiving COVID-19-related treatment and vaccines through Medicaid.

The Stronger Medicaid Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic Act allows Medicaid programs to pay for treatment, hospitalization, drugs and vaccines for individuals with COVID-19 who are uninsured.

Shaheen said: “As we battle this devastating public health crisis, no one should be denied lifesaving care because they can’t afford it. Health care affordability was a serious issue in our country before the pandemic hit, but now millions of families are struggling to afford the COVID treatments they need — especially uninsured Americans. That’s why we have reintroduced this bill to expand coverage for COVID-19 treatments for uninsured Americans through Medicaid, with federal funding to reimburse states for extra costs. Making health care as accessible as possible must be our top priority, especially amid this deadly pandemic.”

Over 77 million individuals are enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, providing essential coverage for health-care services, like primary and preventive care, mental and behavioral health care, and chronic illness treatment.

Millions of Americans who rely on their employer-sponsored insurance have lost their jobs since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, often losing their health coverage.

Medicaid provides a critical safety net for these individuals and others who have lost coverage or cannot afford care. As individuals lost both their health coverage and income, Medicaid enrollment increased by 11.3 percent between March and September of 2020.

Shaheen has worked in the Senate to expand access to health care amid the pandemic. She recently reintroduced the Worker Health Coverage Protection Act, legislation that would protect millions of unemployed or furloughed workers from losing their health insurance in the midst of the pandemic.

Last year, Shaheen led 33 Senate Democrats in releasing a proposal to expand health-care coverage and affordability during the COVID-19 pandemic. She also introduced legislation with Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.) that would respond to the increased need for health care during the public health and economic crisis by creating a quicker and more responsive process for supporting state Medicaid programs. It would address fluctuating demand in states for Medicaid by automatically connecting the Medicaid Federal Medical Assistance Percentage to state unemployment levels, so that additional federal aid would ebb and flow with a state’s economy.

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