San Nicolas: Unfunded mandates have hurt Guam’s ability to deal with the COVID crisis

Congressman Michael San Nicolas (PNC file photo)
Testimony delivered by Congressman Michael San Nicolas

Guam Congressman Michael San Nicolas testified before the Senate Natural Resources Committee Tuesday which held a hearing on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the territories.

In his testimony, San Nicolas highlighted the pre-existing unfunded mandates that have hurt Guam’s ability to respond to the COVID crisis.

Among those unfunded mandates that have hurt GovGuam’s ability to respond is the Earned Income Tax Credit.

“As a result of this pre-existing condition,” said San Nicolas, “Guam’s capacity to meet COVID-19 threats was greatly diminished with less facility readiness and nurse recruitment and retention already inadequate to meet Guam’s needs. The Congress must see to it that the federal Government absorb the cost of EITC by permanently funding it on a reimbursable basis in the territories.”

He also cited the lack of supplemental social security income for Guam residents and the underfunded costs of compact impact migrants.

“These shortfalls create real systemic imbalances and ripe pre-existing conditions for COVID-19 to go untested, untreated or un-diagnosed as COFA migrants are ineligible for Medicaid coverage,” he said.

Underfunded migratory costs “overburden the systems of care,” said San Nicolas and he urged Congress “to provide as much balance as possible for the costs associated with hosting COFA migrants as failure to do so comes at a cost to health, education and public safety institutions provided by host communities.”

Congressman San Nicolas proposed extending Medicaid coverage to COFA migrants on Guam and he also suggested that the federal government take a step further by considering extending Medicaid directly into COFA states as a means to solve the problem of health care migration at the source. ###

READ the release from Congressman San Nicolas in FULL below:

For Immediate Release

Congressman San Nicolas testifies before Senate on status of COVD-19

While the Congress has committed up to $1.5 Billion to Guam in currently enacted legislation, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee wanted to hear what else was needed.

Congressman San Nicolas used the opportunity to parallel the lack of EITC, SSI, and COFA to pre-existing conditions that exacerbate the risks of COVID-19, making a strong case for these to be addressed.