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Last updateTue, 15 Oct 2019 12am







    Monday, October 14, 2019-7:58:15P.M.






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Many US citizens in territories may lose Medicaid coverage on Sept. 30

IF the U.S. Congress does not act before Sept. 30, 2019, enrollees in the nation’s five territories may lose their Medicaid coverage and access to compensated care, the governors of the CNMI, Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa and U.S. Virgin Islands told U.S. congressional leaders.

In a joint letter, CNMI Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vasquez Garced, American Samoa Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga and U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. urged the U.S. Congress “to provide the U.S. territories with the same need-based Medicaid funding that is currently available to the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

“Doing so will ensure that the U.S. citizens residing in the territories will be eligible for fair, equitable healthcare coverage, putting all Americans on an equal footing,” the governors added.

They are asking for the elimination of the arbitrary cap on annual federal Medicaid funding; an increase in the federal matching rate for the territories’ Medicaid expenditures; updated hospital reimbursements; and increased funding for prescription drug coverage to low-income seniors.

The governor noted that Medicaid in the U.S. territories is “teetering on the edge of a fiscal cliff.”

On Sept. 30, 2019, the federal funding provided to the U.S. territories under P.L. 115-123, or the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, and the Affordable Care Act will expire, and the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage will revert to a 55 percent federal match, the governors said.

“This reversion to the earlier status quo will have grave implications for approximately four million Americans living in the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands,” the governors said.

They added that the challenges surrounding the need to provide healthcare to low-income adults and children in the U.S. territories has been “exacerbated by long-standing discriminatory treatment under federal Medicaid law.”

The governors are requesting an extension of 100 percent Medicaid coverage for the next three years “so that our citizens in the U.S. territories receive equal treatment under [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] guidelines.”

The governor said if “Congress does not act before September 30th of this year, our enrollees may lose their Medicaid coverage and access to compensated care aimed at treating life-threatening diseases and conditions and preventing needless deaths. It is our hope that Congress will work with the U.S. territories to reverse course and resolve the Medicaid funding cliff. Failure to do so will constitute a man-made disaster and a blot on the human rights record of the United States.”

The governors added, “Please also keep in mind that the residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are still recovering from the two back-to-back hurricanes of September 2017, Irma and Maria. The residents of the CNMI as well are still recovering from the strongest storm to hit American soil in over 30 years. Losing their medical insurance is the last thing our vulnerable population needs as they face the ongoing impact of these violent storms on local economies and on their physical and mental health.”