Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that the Congressional Delegates worked directly with Chairman Joe Barton and Ranking Member John Dingell of the House Committee on Energy, as well as Congressman Dan Burton of the Government Reform Committee, to temporarily increase Medicaid funding for American Samoa, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and CNMI. In fact, Congresswoman Bordallo, Congresswoman Christensen and Congressman Faleomavaega proposed the language and funding which Chairman Barton included and exceeded in the Energy budget reconciliation committee print.
“Each of our offices has released statements to the press since 2004 regarding our efforts and we are pleased and thank Chairman Barton, Ranking Member Dingell, and Congressman Burton for their support throughout this time,” Faleomavaega said. “We began our efforts to temporarily increase Medicaid funding in 2003 when we worked together and successfully included language in the Tax Act of 2003.”
“In February 2004, we worked with Chairman Dan Burton of the Government Reform Subcommittee on Wellness who held a hearing on February 25, 2004 entitled Investigations into Health Care Disparities in the United States Pacific Island Territories. Each of us participated in these hearings and we made sure our Governors were invited to testify.”
“After this hearing, Chairman Burton agreed to support our efforts to temporarily increase Medicaid funding for our districts. In response to his support, we offered an amendment on the House floor in early September 2004 to the Labor, Health and Education appropriations bill with language identical, except for the amount, to what Chairman Barton has now included in the Committee print. It was at this time that Chairman Joe Barton of the Energy and Commerce Committee promised he would help us more significantly if we would withdraw the amendment until a later date. We agreed to Chairman Barton’s request.”
“As a follow-up to his commitment, Congresswoman Bordallo, Congresswoman Christensen, Chairman Burton and I personally met with Chairman Barton on September 15, 2004. During this meeting, Chairman Barton again promised he would work to include our amendment in an upcoming bill in the 109th Congress and recommended that our staffs work together on the details. We also met with Ranking Member Dingell on October 7, 2004 and he agreed to support us.”
“After more than a year and a half of work on this initiative, Congress is once again considering Medicaid appropriations and Chairman Barton and Ranking Member Dingell have kept their word and included our amendment in the Energy budget reconciliation committee print and increased our original request from $8 million to $24 million. Presently, if the House and Senate support this provision, the Virgin Islands will receive $2.5 million for fiscal year 2006 and $5 million for FY 2007. Guam will receive $2.5 million for FY 2006 and $5 million for 2007. American Samoa will receive $2 million for fiscal years 2006 and $4 million for 2007. CNMI will receive $1 million for FY 2006 and $2 million for FY 2007.”
“While this language must still be approved by the House and Senate, Chairman Barton has promised that he will fight to keep our funding in place during conference and we are so thankful for his support. Still, we must proceed with caution.”
“Despite the progress we have made, we still have work to do before this increase becomes final and there is always the possibility that other Members may try and take out this provision or reduce the amounts of our funding. Therefore, we are aggressively working to bolster support and will be sending out letters to the conferees to make sure that they vote in our favor during conference.”
“Again, I thank Chairman Joe Barton and Ranking Member John Dingell of the Energy Committee and also Congressman Dan Burton who I serve with on the International Relations Committee. These Members are true friends of the Territories and we thank them for their friendship and assistance,” the Congressman concluded.