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Medicaid in Times of Crisis

GAO-21-343SP Published: Feb 17, 2021. Publicly Released: Feb 17, 2021.
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Fast Facts

In emergencies such as pandemics, natural disasters, and recessions, states and the federal government have used the Medicaid program to help ensure that the nation's most vulnerable citizens continue to have access to essential health services. Medicaid currently serves more than 70 million Americans of all ages.

With examples drawn from several GAO reports, our 2-page "capsule" illustrates how the government and states have used Medicaid funding and services during crises. We offer policy questions and considerations for assessing if and how Medicaid can help during times of crisis.

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What GAO Found

This Capsule—named for its 2-page format—draws from a number of GAO reports to provide examples of how the federal government and states have used Medicaid during pandemics, economic recessions, natural disasters, and other crises.


In this Capsule, GAO cites policy considerations and reiterates a recommendation to Congress.

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CrisisEconomic recessionHealth careHealth care servicesMedicaidNatural disasterspandemicsPublic health emergenciesPublic health legislationSocial media