The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report examining opportunities to improve the federal recovery efforts in response to COVID-19.
After an analysis of obligation and expenditure data from federal agencies regarding the array of financial responses to the pandemic, the report identifies challenges and recommendations for improvement across the areas of viral testing, distribution of supplies, the Paycheck Protection Program, Unemployment Insurance, and more.
Of particular interest, GAO recommends that Congress use a formula modification for the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) it has developed to offer an option for providing “automatic, timely, and targeted assistance” during times of significant economic downturn. This, GAO states, is because the current formula for the FMAP does not account for downturn conditions, which often involve increased Medicaid enrollment and weakened state economies.
The recommendation follows an April 2020 discussion from the Medicaid and CHIP Access and Payment Commission (MACPAC) on the same issue (WHG summary here). During the discussion, MACPAC Commissioners examined the use of national gross domestic product (GDP), sales tax, and the unemployment rate as potential measures for determining thresholds for triggering an automatic FMAP increase, and stated they will continue their work on this topic in future sessions.
In light of the push for considering lessons learned and which COVID-19 response measures and flexibilities to make permanent, changes such as this may surface in the ongoing discussions.