Marianas Variety

Last updateThu, 19 Sep 2019 12am







    Wednesday, September 18, 2019-5:45:14A.M.






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Kilili to hold Medicaid hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Office of the CNMI Congressional Delegate) — U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan has scheduled a hearing for next Thursday on the Medicaid “cliff” facing the insular areas.

Funding provided in the 2010 Affordable Care Act — Obamacare — to add to the Medicaid programs in American Samoa, Guam, the Marianas, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands is no longer available after this year. Cuts in the number of people covered by this federal insurance and cuts in the services they can receive are expected. Loss of Medicaid revenues will also have a negative effect on hospitals and other providers.

Sablan called the hearing in his capacity as House Natural Resources Committee Vice Chair for Insular Affairs. Medicaid directors from the five insular areas are invited as witnesses. Vice Chair Sablan also asked Esther Muna, CEO of the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation, to appear before the committee.

“We need to keep Congress focused on the ‘cliff,’” Congressman Sablan said. “The hearing is one way to do that.

“Bringing the Medicaid directors to Washington will also give them an opportunity to meet with federal agencies and outside support groups,” said Sablan, “as well as to meet staff from other committees with Medicaid jurisdiction in both the House and the Senate.

“The solution to the Medicaid cliff will take cooperation of all,” Sablan added.

The Marianas received over $109 million in extra Medicaid money from Obamacare. Those funds are now exhausted. Although, after discussion with Sablan’s office, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced an additional $8.2 million in April to keep the Marianas program going. The money was recovered from unspent Medicaid grants to the Marianas from fiscal years 2012 through 2015 and from other previously awarded grant funds, also unspent.

Sablan has also included an additional $36 million for the Marianas Medicaid program in disaster aid bills that have twice passed the House this year. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, has said he wants the Senate to act on a disaster bill before Memorial Day.