House Democrats’ latest pandemic-relief package, the Heroes Act (H.R. 6800), has been noted in the mainstream media for its $3 trillion price tag, the uphill battle it faces in the Senate, and a string of items it contains that appear to be unrelated to the COVID-19 outbreak. But it also includes some key provisions aimed at strengthening the Medicare and Medicaid programs that could impact insurers.
Introduced by House Democrats on May 12 and passed largely along party lines by a vote of 208-199 on May 15, the Heroes Act seeks another temporary increase to the Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) and support for home- and community-based services (HCBS) that are often the target of Medicaid budget cuts. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act enacted in March already raised the FMAP by 6.2% for non-expansion beneficiaries for the duration of the public health emergency, and the Heroes Act seeks to raise that by another 7.8% for a combined 14% increase for each quarter through June 2021.