Public health authorities support measure to lift Medicaid cap

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Senator Telena Nelson (PNC file photo)

In an effort to alleviate the financial burden on local health authorities and medical providers, the Oversight Chair of Federal and Foreign Relations conducted a Public Hearing on Resolution No. 42-36 to express support for lifting the Medicaid cap for Guam and U.S. territories.

“Medicaid is the largest source of public health insurance in the nation and covers a broad range of health concerns, including x-ray services, physical therapy, inpatient and outpatient hospital services, midwife services, dental care, and home health care,” said Senator Nelson. “Our island could begin to address these pressing issues by supporting the efforts and workforce of our health provider community.”

Nearly one-fifth of Guam’s population benefits from Medicaid, but Guam, along with other territories, only have access to federal dollars that are not to exceed the annual amount provided for in the Social Security Act. Medicaid funding allocated to the States are not subject to a fixed amount, but are provided funds based on their respective per capita incomes, affording them a Federal Medical Assistance Percentage of up to 83 percent. The percentage for U.S. territories is statutorily set at 55% percent. Delegate Sablan introduced H.R. 265, the “Insular Area Medicaid Parity Act,” to eliminate this statutory requirement.

“This congressional bill is definitely needed to avert a crisis that will occur if the FMAP and Medicaid funding for Guam is reverted to how it was originally operationalized,” stated testimony from the Guam Memorial Hospital Authority. “From the hospital’s perspective, should the FMAP and Medicaid funding revert to the 55 percent reimbursement cap for services to those enrolled in the Guam Medicaid program, the hospital will, without any doubt, be in extreme financial hardship again. On behalf of the GMH leadership, management, medical staff, and employees, we are in absolute support of this resolution.”

“Medicaid should be funded in a manner that supports a sustainable healthcare system,” stated testimony from the Department of Public Health and Social Services. “This way, the health departments and providers can properly plan a healthcare system that serves a community based on sound fiscal reliance resulting in proper healthcare planning. Medicaid funding should be responsive to meet the changing needs of its communities, the communities it serves. There needs to be flexibility due to natural and other challenges that threaten the health of our community. This is our time for us to rally our support, to press for the passage of the measure that will address the disparity of funding to Guam.”

(Senator Telena Nelson Release)

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