The Trump administration isn’t allowing states to use Medicaid more freely to respond to the coronavirus crisis by expanding medical services, ignoring mounting pleas from several states, Los Angeles Times reports.
As noted by The Times, “in previous emergencies, including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina and the H1N1 flu outbreak, both Republican and Democratic administrations loosened Medicaid rules to empower states to meet surging needs.”
But as the coronavirus sweeps across the globe and continues to spread in the US, the White House and senior federal health officials are blocking states’ pathways to fully leverage the mammoth safety net program to prevent a wider epidemic, according to the report.
That’s making it harder for states to quickly sign up poor patients for coverage so they can get necessary testing or treatment if they are exposed to coronavirus.
The blockage also threatens to slow efforts by states to bring on new medical providers, set up emergency clinics or begin quarantining and caring for homeless Americans at high risk from the virus.
State leaders are wary of criticizing the president directly, fearing that he may attack them personally or retaliate against their states.
Last week, Trump called Washington Gov. Jay Inslee a “snake” after the governor, a Democrat, criticized the administration’s slow coronavirus response.
That’s left states with a more limited set of Medicaid options that CMS outlined Thursday afternoon. These include small steps such as allowing hospitals to more easily enroll patients in Medicaid.