Congressman Faleomavaega today announced that $1 million in federal funds will be made available this year to American Samoa from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through the Grants to States for Health Insurance Premium Review program. This program, also known as the Rate Review grant program, was authorized under the healthcare reform enacted through the landmark Affordable Care Act, passed by Congress in March. The Rate Review grant is designed to help states and territories establish a process to monitor health insurance premiums offered by insurance companies, and to ensure that consumers are protected from unreasonable, unjustified, or excessive premium increases.
The Rate Review grant announcement made this week by HHS is one of a series of inclusions for the U.S. territories since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. On July 29th, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius formally announced that the territories would benefit from nearly all of the roughly two dozen consumer protections established in the Act, and be eligible for programs to help implement and enforce these consumer protections. Secretary Sebelius also confirmed that the Rate Review grants originally announced on June 7th would be reopened for the U.S territories.
For Cycle I of the program, $1 million is granted to each state and territory that has a workable proposal. According to the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA), the purpose of the grant is to assist in: (1) reviewing and, if appropriate under state law, approving premium increases for health insurance coverage; (2) providing information to the HHS Secretary on premium increase patterns; and (3) establishing data centers that will compile and publish premium information. The deadline for applications is October 1, 2010. Grants will be awarded later this fall as part of a five-year program authorized by the Affordable Care Act.
“I would like to thank Secretary Sebelius and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for working closely with our congressional offices towards the shared goal of ensuring that the Affordable Care Act treats the territories in a fair and equitable manner,” the Congressman stated.
“I also extend my deepest gratitude to my fellow territorial delegates in Congress for their hard work, perseverance, and collaboration as we continue to pursue this goal during the implementation phase of this Act,” the Congressman added.
“As states across the nation administer and enforce consumer protections and grant programs on a local level, I am thankful to HHS for providing the U.S. territories with the opportunity to apply these same benefits to our own unique needs,” the Congressman concluded.