Kilili: $120M for Marianas Medicaid

Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (file photo)

Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan announced today that Medicaid funding for the Marianas will increase to $60 million both this year and next. Currently, the Marianas is getting $6.9 million. In addition, the federal share for Medicaid will go from 55 percent to 83 percent, a better federal/local contribution rate than for any U.S. state.

“This is good news for the 15,000 plus people in the Marianas who have Medicaid for their health insurance,” Congressman Sablan said in a news release. “They will not only continue to receive care, but they should also be able to receive an expanded range of services with all of this extra money that we are making available.

“This is good news for everyone who uses the Commonwealth Healthcare Center, which would not be able to stay open without Medicaid to pay the bills.” Last month, CHCC reported that 44 percent of its revenue was from Medicaid.

“It is also good news for private health care providers in the Marianas, who have not been able to serve Medicaid patients since June 1st of this year,” Congressman Kilili said.

“I urge the Governor to now allow those private practice clinics and pharmacies to begin taking Medicaid patients again. That will make those private businesses more economically viable and strengthen the entire health care system in our islands.”

Sablan has been working for years to prepare for the day when the $109 million in extra Medicaid money he got for Marianas Medicaid in the 2010 Affordable Care Act would be gone. This year, the final year of ACA funding, the Congressman used his powers as Vice-Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee to bring Medicaid directors from the five insular areas to Congress for a hearing on the funding “cliff” they all faced.

He also successfully added a $36 million amendment for Marianas Medicaid to the disaster aid bill passed in June. That money paid outstanding bills owed to over thirty health care providers in the Marianas, including $19 million to the hospital.

And he lobbied the Department of Health and Human Services for more funding, which resulted in May in a reconciliation of previous years’ grants and a supplemental award for the Marianas, totaling $8.2 million.

Sablan’s hearing in May encouraged the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over Medicaid, to hold its own hearing in June. And that was quickly followed in July with a bipartisan agreement by the Committee to increase Medicaid for all the insular areas and lower the percentage that insular governments would have to match against the federal dollars.

Sablan continued to lead the effort to fix the Medicaid problem for the insular areas with a letter from all the insular area representatives to House leaders last week and by speaking personally to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about the dire circumstances that the Marianas faced.

Sablan’s goal was to include funding for insular Medicaid, as the House, Senate, and White House negotiated a fiscal year 2020 spending deal in these final days of the year.

The effort proved successful. Text of the spending deal was released today after a weekend of drafting activity. The House is expected to vote to pass FY20 appropriations, including the money for Marianas Medicaid on Wednesday.