Walden, Burgess support House approval of Medicaid package

U.S. Reps. Greg Walden (R-OR) and Michael Burgess (R-TX) on Monday supported their chamber’s approval of a bipartisan package of bills to stretch out federal funding for several critical Medicaid programs. 

“Today, the House took bipartisan action to pass an important package of bills to extend funding for a number of key Medicaid programs that upon which patients across the country rely,” said Rep. Walden, Republican leader on the U.S. House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee, and Rep. Burgess, Republican leader on the committee’s Health Subcommittee.

In a joint statement released this week, the Republican leaders said that “while we would have preferred to extend these programs out further, today’s bipartisan vote speaks to the dedication of members from both sides of the aisle to deliver necessary funding for these vital programs.” 

The U.S. House of Representatives on March 25 passed the Medicaid Services Investment and Accountability Act of 2019, H.R. 1839, a package of bills that would provide short-term government funding extensions for several Medicaid programs, including the Advancing Care for Exceptional (ACE) Kids Act of 2019,H.R. 1226/S. 317.

“Specifically, the inclusion of the ACE Kids Act ensures that children with complex health conditions receive the quality care they deserve,” Reps. Walden and Burgess said. “This is an important issue that can have a tremendous impact on improving the care for children and families most in need.”

The ACE Kids Act would establish a state Medicaid option to provide for medical assistance with respect to coordinated care provided through a health home (i.e., a designated provider or team of health-care professionals) for children with medically chronic conditions. States would determine payment methodologies aligned with specific requirements and payments also would temporarily qualify for an enhanced federal matching rate, according to the congressional record summary of the bill.

Chronic conditions, according to the text of the bill, would mean “a serious, long-term physical, mental, or developmental disability or disease, including cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, HIV/AIDS, blood diseases, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, epilepsy, severe autism spectrum disorder, and serious emotional disturbance or serious mental health illness.”

Also included in the House-approved H.R. 1839 package is a proposed short-term funding extension for the eight-state Excellence in Mental Health demonstration project, which permits community providers to expand access to treatment for mental and behavioral health, including drug addiction, according to the congressmen’s statement. 

Lastly, H.R. 1839 also would ensure that The Money Follows the Person Program is extended through September, the members said, adding that the successful program helps care for and transition individuals with chronic conditions and disabilities from institutions back into their local communities.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) said they looked forward to seeing the Medicaid Services Investment and Accountability Act signed into law.

“This bipartisan, bicameral agreement will help tens of thousands of people gain access to lifesaving health care services in their communities and hold drug companies accountable for gaming the system at taxpayers’ expense,” Reps. Pallone and Eshoo said in a joint statement.

The U.S. Senate on March 26 received H.R. 1839 for consideration.