U.S. House approves coronavirus relief bill; provides big savings for GovGuam by lowering Medicaid match requirement

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The U.S. House of Representatives Saturday passed a measure that lowers the amount of money GovGuam would have to put up in order to qualify for medicaid matching funds under the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage program known as FMAP.

H.R. 6201, known as the  “Families First Coronavirus Response Act”  was drafted and approved in response to the coronavirus outbreak. It now moves on to the U.S. Senate for action by that body.

If the bill becomes law it would significantly lower the cost to GovGuam for Medicaid matching funds and provide a huge savings for the local government.

In a release to the media Guam Congressman Michael San Nicolas announced that H.R. 6201 would increase the federal government’s FMAP percentage by 8% to 91%.

That lowers GovGuam’s match requirement to just 9% for each million dollars requested.

As a result, to access a million dollars in medicaid funding Guam only needs to commit $90 thousand dollars., said San Nicilas.

“Just a year ago it used to cost Guam $450 thousand to access a million in medicaid spending, now (it would be) just $90 thousand, saving the government a dramatic $360 thousand per million,” said the Congressman. “This savings can help us treat more people, or offset economic impacts with tax relief, and completely transforms our options as far as healthcare is concerned.”

Other benefits:

The measure would also expand unemployment benefits,  require employers to provide additional protections for health care workers, and allow for supplemental appropriations to the Department of Agriculture (USDA) for nutrition and food assistance programs.

Those programs include:

  • Free COVID19 testing (Dept Health & Human Services)

  • 14 days available of paid sick leave in an emergency which covers days when child’s school is closed due to COVID19 or when employer closes due to COVID19 (USDOL)

  • $500M in SNAP to low-income households with young children whose breadwinners lose their jobs or laid off due to COVID19 administered through the SNAP (USDept Ag)

  • $400M to local food banks to assist in meeting demand for low income families during emergency administered though The Emergency Food Assistance Program (USDept Ag)

  • Suspends the work and work training requirements for SNAP recipients during the emergency (USDept Ag)

  • $250M for senior nutrition program (USDept Health & Human Services)

  • reimburses small businesses for the 14 days (USDOL)

  • Federal employee paid leave benefits to those who are diagnosed, in quarantine, caring for someone diagnosed or under quarantine (USDOL)

  • Allows approved state plans to provide emergency SNAP assistance to households with children who would otherwise receive free or reduced-price school meals if not for their schools being closed due to the COVID-19 emergency. In order to be eligible, the child’s school must be closed for no less than 5 consecutive days. (USDept Ag)

The supplemental appropriations provided by the bill are designated as emergency spending, which is exempt from discretionary spending limits.

READ the release from Congressman San Nicholas in FULL below:

For immediate release
More federal support for pandemic relief

The House is expected to pass HR 6201 the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” today pushing out further federal support to fight the coronavirus pandemic, with the President expressing his support and the Senate expected to act as well.

With HR 6201 FMAP is increased by another 8%, making Guam’s Medicaid match even better at 91% federal to 9% local. As such, to access a million dollars in medicaid Guam only needs to commit $90 thousand dollars. “Just a year ago it used to cost Guam $450 thousand to access a million in medicaid spending, now it’s just $90 thousand, saving the government a dramatic $360 thousand per million,” opened Congressman San Nicolas. “This savings can help us treat more people, or offset economic impacts with tax relief, and completely transforms our options as far as healthcare is concerned,” Congressman San Nicolas added.

In addition to the FMAP increase, the following resources are provided in HR 6201:

– $500M in SNAP to low-income households with young children whose breadwinners lose their jobs or laid off due to COVID19 administered through the SNAP (USDept Ag)

– $400M to local food banks to assist in meeting demand for low income families during emergency administered though The Emergency Food Assistance Program (USDept Ag)

– Allows approved state plans to provide emergency SNAP assistance to households with children who would otherwise receive free or reduced-price school meals if not for their schools being closed due to the COVID-19 emergency. In order to be eligible, the child’s school must be closed for no less than 5 consecutive days. (USDept Ag)

– $250M for senior nutrition program (USDept Health & Human Services)

– Suspends the work and work training requirements for SNAP recipients during the emergency (USDept Ag)

– Federal employee paid leave benefits to those who are diagnosed, in quarantine, caring for someone diagnosed or under quarantine (USDOL)

– 14 days available of paid sick leave in an emergency which covers days when child’s school is closed due to COVID19 or when employer closes due to COVID19 (USDOL)
-reimburses small businesses for the 14 days (USDOL)

– Free COVID19 testing (Dept Health & Human Services)

All of the aforementioned shall be coordinated directly with federal agencies by the State, Tribal, or Territorial governments similar to standard disaster related correspondences such as typhoons or hurricanes.

“We stand ready to assist in any way the flow or follow through of communications we are channeled in to, and will continue to apprise the local government of any updates or opportunities to avail,” Congressman San Nicolas concludes.