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States consider options for end to extra federal Medicaid payments

 

State officials are asking the federal government for more information to help them prepare for an eventual end to increased federal funding from the first COVID-19 relief law this year (Source: “States grapple with plans for end to coronavirus public health emergency,” Roll Call, Dec. 3). 

The health emergency is set to expire Jan. 20 but will almost certainly be extended by the next administration. The question is how states will transition to normal operations.

“The issue and the challenge is that CMS, I am sure, doesn’t want to send states a signal that the public health emergency is ending, given where we are. But on the other hand, states feel like they need some indications of what to do and when to do it,” said Allison Orris, counsel with Manatt Health and a former federal health policy official.

A CMS spokesperson pointed to existing guidance to states saying that the enhanced federal funding for Medicaid — a 6.2 percentage point increase being added to states' Federal Medical Assistance Percentage rates — will stop at the end of the quarter when the public health emergency ends. The spokesperson said it’s too early to speculate on potential status changes for the health emergency, and CMS remains in constant contact with states.