Senators’ Bill Would Reinstate Alignment of Medicaid Payments with Medicare Payments for Two More Years and During Public Health Crises, including COVID-19, So Working Families Can Continue to See Primary Care Providers Who Best Meet Their Needs; Legislation Specifically Reinstates Alignment of Medicaid and Medicare Payments And Expands It to Women’s Health Providers, Including Obstetricians, Gynecologists, Nurse Practitioners, Certified Nurse-Midwives and Physician Assistants
WASHINGTON, DC – May 26, 2021 – Today, U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Patty Murray (D-WA) reintroduced the Ensuring Access to Primary Care for Women & Children Act, legislation to help ensure individuals and families can continue to see primary care providers who best meet their needs, by reinstating the alignment of Medicaid payments with Medicare payments for two more years and during any public health emergency, including the current COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation would also expand the alignment in payments to include certain providers who are especially important to women’s health, including: obstetricians and gynecologists, nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives, and physician assistants.
“We know that our healthcare system is under tremendous pressure,” said Senator Brown. “The need for primary care providers will continue to grow as more Americans enroll in Medicaid during this economic downturn. Investing in our primary care workforce and expanding access to care for Ohio families is one of the best ways to ensure Ohioans maintain access to consistent care that best meets their needs.”
“We need to be doing everything we can to help everyone get the health care they need without worrying about cost. That’s why we passed the largest expansion of health care in a decade in the American Rescue Plan, and it’s why we are continuing to push for steps like this bill,” said Senator Murray. “By encouraging more providers to see Medicaid patients this legislation would make care easier to get for the tens of millions of families who rely on Medicaid for quality, affordable coverage and ensure women have access to the providers they need. It’s a simple, common sense step that would quickly help a lot of families, and I’m going to keep pushing for us to take it.”
As of November 2020, nearly 80 million Americans were enrolled in the Medicaid program, an increase of more than 15 million enrollees from February 2020. The economic downturn caused by COVID-19 has caused more Americans to enroll in Medicaid, significantly increasing the need for primary care providers in the program. Recognizing the need for additional support for Medicaid enrollees and their providers during public health emergencies, the Ensuring Access to Primary Care for Women & Children Act would ensure primary care parity automatically reinstates any time there’s a public health emergency. Reinstating the primary care parity expands health provider options by directing more funds toward Medicaid primary care providers.
Research has demonstrated that higher Medicaid payment rates significantly increase appointment availability for Medicaid enrollees. Studies have also shown that, because nurse practitioners and other health professionals, such as physician assistants, are trained to and already deliver many primary care services, extending the pay increase to these professionals could increase access to primary care, particularly in underserved areas.
In addition to Brown and Murray, the legislation is also sponsored by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Bernard Sanders (I-VT).
The Ensuring Access to Primary Care for Women & Children Act has been endorsed by the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of PAs, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Physicians, the American Osteopathic Association, and Community Catalyst.