Press Releases

Rep. Shalala Introduces Disaster Relief Medicaid Act

Ensures Access to Medicaid-Supported Services for Individuals Displaced by a Natural Disaster

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Reps. Donna Shalala (D-FL) and Jennifer González-Colon (R-PR) introduced the Disaster Relief Medicaid Act (DRMA), legislation that would ensure individuals and families who have been displaced to other states by natural disasters can continue to access their Medicaid-supported services.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Super Storm Sandy, millions of evacuees relocated to neighboring states, where they often lost immediate access to the healthcare and long-term services and support they’d received through Medicaid in their home states. Loss of care can have devastating effects on the wellbeing and recovery of those impacted by natural disasters. The Disaster Relief Medicaid Act would provide a 100 percent federal match for states caring for Relief-Eligible Survivors (individuals residing in an area covered under a President’s disaster declaration) and would help states to develop strategies to manage the influx of out-of-state individuals. 

“Natural disasters often create long-term health problems for those displaced from their home states. No one should have to choose between remaining in a dangerous location and maintaining healthcare coverage. I am proud to introduce this legislation in the House and will continue to champion these efforts to ensure that all Americans get the medical care that they deserve—no matter the hardship,” said Rep. Shalala.

"Patients should feel secure in their ability to retain access to essential benefits, such as health care, in the event of disasters. In Puerto Rico, the 2017 hurricane season revealed how health-related limitations affects the recovery process of the island's residents. Our people had to relocate to the United States after the disaster and this bill guarantees them to maintain their health services. I want to thank Rep. Shalala for her support in providing solutions to people affected by disasters," stated Rep. Jenniffer González.

Medicaid, which is funded by both the federal government and the individual states, provides healthcare access to over 65 million Americans. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides benefits to another 6.6 million individuals under the age of 18. This bill ensures the 72 million citizens covered by these programs would continue to have access to care for up to two years after displacement by major disaster. 

In conjunction with the Disaster Relief Medicaid Act, Rep. Shalala also cosponsored the Real Emergency Access for Aging and Disability Inclusion (REAADI) Act. The bill, introduced by Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI), would ensure greater inclusion and support for people with disabilities and older adults, who are often forgotten, in disaster preparedness plans.

Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced DRMA and REAADI companion legislation in the Senate.

Full text of the bill can be read here.