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Gingrey introduces healthcare legislation to aid hurricane victims
Bill would reduce Medicaid costs on states, ease access to hospitals, insurance
Washington, Sep 30 -
U.S. Congressman Phil Gingrey today introduced H.R. 3952, the Emergency Health Care Relief Act of 2005, legislation to help Hurricane Katrina’s victims access quality medical care.
"Nature has dealt these victims a terrible hand," said Gingrey. "We can help them get back on their feet by assuring their access to healthcare. The Gulf Coast states are seeing their Medicaid rolls swell, and many businesses - both big and small - can no longer provide for their employees’ health benefits. If we don't act soon, we are going to see a massive healthcare crisis in the region."
H.R. 3952 includes provisions to:
** Aid Gulf Coast states hardest hit by Katrina by amending the federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) for Medicaid. Because Medicaid is a joint state/federal program, states pay a sliding percentage of their Medicaid costs, based on need. The legislation allows Gulf Coast states to temporarily pay a reduced share of the costs, 10 percent.
** Provide employers in the hardest hit counties with assistance in maintaining private health insurance coverage for their employees. This aides businesses that are inoperable due to Hurricane Katrina’s damages.
** Provide qualifying victims with grant money to help pay for health insurance premiums through a Disaster Relief Fund administered by state insurance commissioners.
** Alleviate the burden of uncompensated care on healthcare providers in the Gulf Coast. Providers who are caring for increased Medicaid populations or who have lost their patient base because of the hurricane will be eligible for additional payments through an emergency relief fund.
** Ease other regulatory and bureaucratic conditions that prevent hurricane victims from quickly getting the care they need. These provision include expediting the process for signing up for Medicaid and SCHIP (children's healthcare insurance); extending unemployment benefits for 13 weeks; ensuring a plan is created to inform and transition victims from Medicaid to Medicare Part D, the prescription drug benefit, when victims become eligible; temporarily allowing Medicaid to pay for mental health services; and allowing investor-owned hospitals to be reimbursed through FEMA.
"By helping states and businesses affected by Hurricane Katrina provide health coverage for these victims, we are keeping people healthy and rebuilding the medical community in the Gulf Coast," said Gingrey. "This is good legislation that will help provide for the basic and immediate healthcare needs of Hurricane Katrina's victims."