Hurricane Katrina: Medicaid Issues [September 15, 2005]   [open pdf - 90KB]

"Medicaid is jointly financed by the federal and state governments, but each state designs and administers its own version of the program under broad federal guidelines. The complexity of Medicaid can present an enormous challenge in meeting the needs of Hurricane Katrina's victims, especially when evacuees cross state lines. State variation in eligibility, covered services, and the reimbursement and delivery of services is the rule rather than the exception. Furthermore, although Medicaid is targeted at individuals with low income, not all of the poor are eligible, and not all those covered are poor. As a federal-state program that helps to finance health care services for people with limited resources, Medicaid is an obvious avenue of quick response for support of hurricane victims in Katrina's aftermath. The program's federal budgetary status as mandatory spending means that federal funding is available to support coverage for all people who meet the program's eligibility criteria, without the need for a supplemental appropriation. However, the ability of Medicaid to respond to this disaster--in terms of the numbers and types of people who can rely on it for health care support--may depend on a number of factors, including congressional action to modify statutory provisions (e.g., the level of federal Medicaid reimbursement offered to states), the Secretary of Health and Human Services' ability to waive certain program requirements administratively (e.g., regarding eligibility and benefits), and actions of the states (each of whom operates its own unique Medicaid program within federal guidelines)."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL33083
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