Island Delegates Continues Push for More Medicaid Money

Island US lawmakers will try again this month to lift the Medicaid funding cap for the territories, after earlier attempts failed with the demise of GOP  bills to end Obamacare.

KHJ News Washington correspondent Matt Kaye reports—

Congresswoman Aumua Amata Radewagen and other Island delegates tried earlier this year to work territory Medicaid provisions into GOP Obamacare overhaul legislation, but were unsuccessful.

Then the overhaul effort failed.

But Island Congressional offices say their members are not giving up.

Congress must extend expiring health insurance for low-income children before the end of this month.

The delegates and island governors wrote health subcommittee lawmakers to ask for more Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program funding.

Specifically, they asked that all Obamacare Medicaid for the territories be available until fully spent…that the annual 55-percent Medicaid island cap be replaced with the higher 80-percent or more state cap…and that island hospitals be allowed to receive Disproportionate Share Hospital funds to offset uncompensated patient costs.

The islands have made similar requests for years, to no avail.

Island officials say the cost of Medicaid services in the territories is increasing, forcing the islands to spend more of their own scarce resources, without getting matching funds.

They argue getting the same level of help as the states, based on similar, lower per capita incomes, would greatly improve medical care in the islands.

Add to that, the problem of not being  able to spend down all available Obamacare Medicaid–a problem American Samoa and Guam share.

American Samoa with a single hospital, has some $150-million in excess Medicaid that expires in 2019, if not spent—an issue that was the subject of an earlier congressional hearing and stirred a political controversy.

Guam also has millions in Medicaid that could be spent, according to Congresswoman Madeline Bordallo’s office, if there was a formula more equitable with the states.

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