Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that the House passed H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, by a vote of 220 to 215. This important legislation will provide access to affordable quality health care for all Americans. The full text of Faleomavaega’s floor statement in support of H.R. 3962 is included below.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 3962, legislation to provide affordable, quality health care for all Americans and reduce the growth in health care spending, and for other purposes. This bill will control rising medical costs and also extend health care coverage to uninsured American citizens throughout the United States and its Territories.
I want to thank Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her leadership and my colleagues in Congress for their support on this important bill. Especially, I extend my gratitude to the Chairmen of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Congressman Henry Waxman; and the House Committee on Ways and Means, Congressman Charles Rangel for listening to the concerns of the Territories and for their willingness to work with the Territorial delegates on resolving their concerns.
I also want to commend my fellow territorial delegates for their hard work and efforts, in working hand-in-hand to reduce health disparity facing the Territories. I especially want to recognize Congresswoman Donna Christensen for her work in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Congressman Pedro Pierluisi and Congressman Gregorio Sablan for their advocacy in the House Committee on Education and Labor and to Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo for her leadership as the Chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Healthcare Task Force.
Mr. Speaker, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, or HR 3962, will improve health care for Americans living in the insular areas. Under the provisions of this legislation, from FY2011 through FY2019, American Samoa will receive additional Medicaid funding in the amount of $239.5 million. Moreover, its Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) will be raised to the highest FMAP applicable to any of the 50 States and District of Columbia. As a result American Samoa will assume an FMAP no less than 75%, the FMAP for Mississippi which has the highest among the 50 States.
American Samoa will also work together with the Secretary of Health and Human Services on a plan to transition the Territory to full parity by 2020. And to make this transition, the Secretary will also assist to make appropriate modifications to the Territory’s existing Medicaid programs. This will require comprehensive assessment of the existing Medicaid program and health care services in American Samoa.
I am pleased that American Samoa and the insular areas will have the opportunity to become part of the Exchange program, the centerpiece of the Health Care Reform legislation. Again I thank my Territorial delegates for their hard work to ensure that Congress continues to recognize the need and unique set of circumstances we have in the Territories. To help carry out the Exchange program, $300 million is to be allocated among American Samoa, the CNMI, Guam, and the USVI, based on consultation with the Secretary of Human and Health Services. If American Samoa or any Territorial government chooses not to join the Exchange, its allocation will be added instead to that Territory’s Medicaid funding.
Mr. Speaker, H.R. 3962 will bring much needed improvement to the health care system in American Samoa. The fact of the matter is rising medical costs and limited health care coverage, exacerbated by American Samoa’s remote location and exponential rate of chronic diseases, have led to a high number of people in the Territory with minimal or no access to quality health services. Indeed, findings from the American Samoa Health Survey conducted in 2005 estimated only 25% of the population have insurance. Subsequently, there is a tremendous need to address these concerns in a viable health care policy for the Territory.
For this reason, in a letter sent June 22, 2009, I wrote members of the Fono (American Samoa Legislature) to address the need to improve the health care system in the Territory. I specifically requested that the Fono should take advantage of the report from the Coverage for All in American Samoa (CAAS) project, which includes policy recommendations on ways to improve the Territory’s health care system.
I commend the American Samoa Government especially the Office of the Lieutenant Governor and staff for their dedication and commitment to the CAAS project that was completed in 2007. I also want to commend the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for committing total funding of $1.2 million from 2004 to 2007 to complete the CAAS project. My hope is for the American Samoa Government to follow through on the policy recommendations in the CAAS report and adopt the framework for health care reform that is now in place and supported by HR 3962.
The Affordable Health Care for America Act, H.R. 3962, carries with it our expectations and hopes for quality and affordable health care for our people and with it a commitment; a commitment to ensure that every American is provided quality health care that they are entitled to and to receive health services that they so critically need.
I urge my friends and colleagues to support H.R. 3962 and pass this historical health care reform legislation.