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States Respond to COVID-19: Postpartum Medicaid Coverage, Contact Tracing

Both Virginia and Washington have paused their proposals to extend Medicaid coverage for low-income women up to one year after giving birth, due to budget constraints resulting from the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) in December released his proposed budget including an extension of Medicaid for postpartum mothers. However, Northam on April 11 asked the state general assembly to pause any new spending, which subsequently froze the increase in Medicaid for postpartum women.

Earlier in April, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) vetoed a bill that would have extended Medicaid eligibility for those up to 193 percent of the federal poverty line up to one year after giving birth. Inslee said budget circumstances changed drastically since the original budget was proposed and approved by legislators in March.

Contact Tracing of COVID-19

Meanwhile, many states are beginning to engage in contact tracing — a detailed method for tracking and stopping outbreaks — to curb the spread of COVID-19. However, the normal amount of contact tracers employed by states is far lower than that needed to address the health care emergency and the process is both arduous and costly.

Arkansas originally had three contact tracers in the state but has expanded to more than 150 to address COVID-19. North Dakota has increased their tracing workforce by 300, many of which are graduate students and recently furloughed health care workers.

Places like Utah and San Fransisco are seeing thousand of individuals offer to volunteer their time to train and learn how to participate in contact tracing. As the public health crisis continues, it is expected that more states will continue to enhance contact tracing to try and track the virus.

Budgetary Measures to Address COVID-19

To prepare for and respond to COVID-19, 24 states have enacted budgetary legislation related to the public health emergency.


Several states have appropriated new funding to address the pandemic. For example, Arizona appropriated $50 million for fiscal year 2020 from the general fund and established a Crisis Contingency and Safety Net Fund, which will provide assistance to the state during emergencies. Michigan appropriated a $125 million one-time sum from the general fund to the coronavirus public health emergency response. Minnesota also enacted several budgetary measures related to COVID-19, including a one-time transfer of $20 million from the general fund to the public health response contingency account, among other efforts.

Other states found money outside of the general fund to address COVID-19. Pennsylvania transferred $50 million from special funds to a restricted account for funding to health care facilities to buy medical equipment and supplies to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, Utah authorized the state to transfer money and funds between departments or agencies if needed for a state response to COVID-19.

Rainy Day Funds

Other states have transferred money from “rainy day” funds to meet needs amid the COVID-19 epidemic.

For instance, Arizona appropriated up to $55 million from the budget stabilization fund to the public health emergencies fund after the governor declared a state of emergency related to COVID-19. Georgia transferred $100 million from its revenue shortfall reserve to combat the spread of COVID-19, and South Carolina appropriated $45 million in emergency funding from its contingency reserve fund for the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control Executive Budget Office.

Meanwhile, Nebraska authorized the state treasurer to transfer more than $83.6 million from the cash reserve fund to the governor’s emergency cash fund, which will then transfer to the military department for aid related to COVID-19.

We encourage all members to visit the America’s Essential Hospitals coronavirus resource page for more information about the outbreak.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at or 202.585.0127 with questions.


About the Author

Abigail Painchaud is a policy associate at America's Essential Hospitals.

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