Rep. Cisneros leads House California delegation urging HHS to grant California’s Medicaid waiver amid coronavirus

Representative Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr. (CA-39), along with Reps. Judy Chu (CA-27) and Anna Eshoo (CA-18), led a group of 25 members of the House California Delegation in urging Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma to approve California’s Medicaid waiver request. The waiver would make it easier to provide care to the nearly 13 million Medi-Cal beneficiaries during the coronavirus, including expanding telehealth options. On Monday, March 16, the California Department of Health Care Services submitted their request for Section 1135 waiver flexibilities, three days after the President declared a national emergency. The full letter can be found here.

“As we work together to slow the spread of the coronavirus and help the American people, we need to ensure that Californians get the care they need,” said Rep. Cisneros. “In an effort to follow the CDC’s guidance of social distancing, the President’s repeated recommendation to stay indoors, and Governor Newsom’s recent ‘Stay at Home’ order, allowing Medi-Cal to expand telehealth and other services will ensure there is no disruption of medical care and that healthcare clinics remain open. We need to act quickly, and I urge Administrator Verma to grant California its Medicaid waiver and help Californians during this crisis.”

“Our hospitals and medical providers are doing incredible work to help treat and contain the spread of the coronavirus. And it’s time we help them as well. On Tuesday, I convened a call with local healthcare providers, and they all told me that allowing MediCal to reimburse doctors for telehealth is one of the best ways to ensure all Californians who need treatment can receive it, without adding to long waits in crowded waiting rooms or risking more exposure to the virus. I urge CMS to approve this waiver as they have already done for other states,” said Rep. Chu.

“In light of the order issued yesterday by Governor Newsom directing Californians statewide to shelter in place, there is a heightened sense of urgency for this waiver to be granted with all deliberate speed. While we can certainly appreciate that the ongoing national emergency has overwhelmed government operations, the continued uncertainty surrounding the status of the state’s request risks undermining our state’s response,” the California House Members wrote. “Without this waiver, health care providers cannot offer and be reimbursed for day-to-day care, thereby risking their ability to keep their doors open during this public health emergency. Our health care providers need to be focused on limiting the spread of COVID-19.”

In sending the letter, Reps. Cisneros, Chu, and Eshoo were joined by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32), Mike Thompson (CA-5), Harley Rouda (CA-48), Mike Levin (CA-49), Jared Huffman (CA-2), Ami Bera (CA-7), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Pete Aguilar (CA-31), Salud O. Carbajal (CA-24), Julia Brownley (CA-26), Adam B. Schiff (CA-28), Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38), John Garamendi (CA-3), J. Luis Correa (CA-46), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Norma Torres (CA-35), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Ted Lieu (CA-33), Josh Harder (CA-10), TJ Cox (CA-21), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Jim Costa (CA-16), and Jerry McNerney (CA-9).

This article was released by the Office of Congressman Gilbert R. Cisneros Jr.