Safety Net Feels Strain of COVID

October 13, 2020 By: Bob Atlas, President & CEO

The coronavirus pandemic and the economic downturn it has caused disproportionately affects the neediest Marylanders and communities of color.

Even as some restrictions on business and social activity are lifting, the economy is slow to bounce back. Just last week the number of first-time unemployment claims in Maryland nearly doubled

Unemployment Rate
Pre-COVID (Feb. 2020)
Current (Aug 2020)
Rate % Change

With recovery seemingly stalled, data show more people in Maryland and nationwide have come to rely on our country’s social and health care safety net during this crisis. That includes Medicaid—the country’s largest and fastest growing safety net program—as well as nutritional assistance and unemployment insurance.

Data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services show that between February—the month before a public health emergency was declared—and June, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) enrollment nationwide rose by more than 4 million, or almost 5.7%. Adult enrollment in Medicaid jumped by 7.2%, and child enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP climbed 4.1%.

The impact in Maryland has been less severe than in other states, yet there is cause for concern.

In June, Gov. Larry Hogan proposed eliminating a planned 4% rate increase for Maryland’s Medicaid providers. This proposal was ultimately punted to the legislature for consideration in 2021. MHA will strenuously oppose such a takeaway. It is an MHA legislative priority to enhance access, improve health equity, and support a robust health care workforce through these critically important state investments.

Our health care practitioners remain hard at work on the front lines of a global pandemic. They should not have the added burden of inadequate payment for delivering care to families in need.

Bob Atlas
President & CEO

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