Governor Lolo Moliga has informed Congresswoman Aumua Amata her plan to repurpose funding for American Samoa under the Affordable Care Act to construct a new hospital would “devastate “ the territory’s ability to cover medical care costs.
This comes in a letter that the Governor penned August, a week after a House Subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill at which the congresswoman questioned American Samoa’s Medicaid Director Sandra King Young as to why $150 million in Medicaid funding hasn’t been spent.
The governor after thanking the congresswoman for her efforts in having the Subcommittee on House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs hold a hearing on the needs of the LBJH Hospital said “now is the time for your office and mu administration to make clear the reasons for extending the ACA Medicaid funds and work together to preserve these funds for American Samoa.
At the hearing the governor in written testimony sought the extension of the 2019 deadline for the unspent Medicaid funds.
Lolo told the congresswoman in his letter of last week, “I am also asking you to not onlu make extending the Affordable Care Act deadline a priority, but to also fight for permanent solutions so that the US territories are treated equally like the US states.”
He adds, “It is more important for the territory to preserve the ACA funding stream for our health care services because these funds already exist under the ACA law for medical services.”
Our Washington DC correspondent Matt Kaye reported last week that one idea being floated was to redirect the unspent ACA funding to build a new hospital.
Governor Lolo Moliga informed the congresswoman that this approach would devastate our ability to cover all our medical care services, including reimbursements for the Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) and Off island Medical Referral program.
He reiterates the need for a new hospital but said without sufficient Medicaid funding to cover medical services, a new facility will not improve the health care of our people.
Lolo emphasized the extension of the ACA funds and a new health care facility must be pursued on two separate tracks.
The governor said he wanted to make sure the committee holding the hearing knew exactly what we were asking for and that is what the Medicaid director presented.
That authorizing legislation be introduced to provide the authority to construct a new hospital.
Lolo emphasized that the ACA Medicaid funding issue is the most critical issue that the territory faces and “we need your influence and support to …to achieve the goal of extending these critical ACA funds.”
And he adds, “it does not serve our territory for your office and my administration to be at odds on the Medicaid issues, especially given the achievements we are now realizing thanks to the hard work done by our Medicaid agency.”
The achievements that Governor Lolo lists includes approvals for the federally Qualified Health Center, extending Medicaid coverage to the Department of Health Community health centers, and the Off island Medical Referral program.
The governor reminds the congresswoman that the Medicaid director had informed her back in February 2015 about extending the ACA deadline, lifting the cap and improving the local match percentage.
The governor invites the congresswoman to meet with his office the next time she’s in the territory to discuss all of what he wrote about.
Congresswoman Aumua arrived in the territory on Monday.