San Nicolas: Medicaid ‘cliff’ solution for Guam imminent

Congressman Michael San Nicolas (PNC file photo)

Guam Congressman Michael San Nicolas said a solution to the Medicaid “cliff” problem for Guam is imminent.

Guam’s Medicaid  “cliff” problem refers to the impending expiration of expanded Medicaid coverage to Guam and other US Territories in September of this year.

San Nicolas said the Energy and Commerce Committee will be introducing a bill next week that will move forward a bipartisan solution to this problem and resolve the impending Medicaid expiration.

“We are thankful for the engagement and support of the Energy and Commerce Committee for our ongoing Medicaid concerns, which we anticipate will be met over the coming 8 years, with an annual 83% federal match and $130 million annual federal funding pool,” San Nicolas said in a statement.

San Nicolas said the upcoming legislation is in line with his advocacy and a major step towards full Medicaid parity, bringing to Guam expanded federal matching and funding into a full cumulative decade.

“With a bipartisan effort supported by our Territories we anticipate smooth passage of this legislation into law, an aversion of the Medicaid Cliff, and a sustained improvement in the ability of the Government of Guam to provide expanded healthcare to our community,” San Nicolas said.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization focusing on national health issues, territories have occasionally experienced difficulty putting up their share of funding that is necessary to draw down the federal funds.

“Loss of local revenue, especially revenue from tourism, both due to previous natural disasters and COVID-19 may impact the territories’ ability to use their federal funding. Increasing the federal match rate would assist the territories by requiring fewer territory funds to access to additional federal funding,” KFF stated.

Unless Congress acts, KFF warned that the U.S. territories will lose over 80% of their funding and there will be a major Medicaid financing cliff at the end of FY 2021. And ithout federal action, territories would need to make significant changes to their programs to cut Medicaid provider payments rates, benefits, or eligibility criteria while still managing the effects of the pandemic.