A new bill would provide states recovering from Hurricane Katrina or hosting evacuees with considerable additional federal funding for Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program. The bill, expected to be introduced today by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.), also would set aside certain Medicare requirements for the submission of quality data by hospitals in the disaster area. The legislation would create a temporary Disaster Relief Medicaid program waiving normal documentation and eligibility requirements for Hurricane Katrina survivors. Under the program, Katrina survivors earning less than the federal poverty level would be eligible for Medicaid coverage for five months, with a possible five-month extension if authorized by the HHS secretary. States hosting evacuees would receive a 100% "federal medical assistance percentage," or FMAP, for benefits provided through the program. Louisiana, Mississippi and counties under disaster declaration in Alabama would receive a 100% FMAP for Medicaid and SCHIP from Aug. 28, 2005, through Dec. 31, 2006.
Meanwhile, Medicare would not require hospitals in the disaster area to submit quality data in order to receive a full-inflation update for 2006. Currently, hospitals that don't submit the data are scheduled to receive 0.4 percentage points less than a full-inflation update. Medicare also would fully reimburse hospitals in the disaster area and those that treat evacuees for beneficiaries' unpaid copayments and deductibles. -- by Tony Fong