Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that by a vote of 216 to 214 the House passed H.Res. 653, Agreeing to the Senate amendment for S. 1932 the Budget Reconciliation Spending Cuts Act and, at the request of the Congressional Delegates, agreed to significantly increase Medicaid payments for the U.S. territories. It is anticipated that the President will sign this into law in the next 30 days.
“As a result of this historic legislation, American Samoa will receive an increase of $2 million for fiscal years 2006 and $4 million for 2007. The Virgin Islands will receive an increase of $2.5 million for fiscal year 2006 and $5 million for FY 2007. Guam will receive an increase of $2.5 million for FY 2006 and $5 million for 2007. CNMI will receive an increase of $1 million for FY 2006 and $2 million for FY 2007.
“For American Samoa, this increase is significant,” Faleomavaega said. “As of today, American Samoa receives approximately $4 million per year in Medicaid payments from the federal government and this is considered our base. With the passage of this legislation, $2 million will be added to our $4 million base making our total $6 million for FY 2006. For FY 2007, an increase of $4 million will be added to our $4 million base for a total of $8 million. For fiscal years 2008 and beyond, American Samoa will receive over $8 million in Medicaid payments plus additional funding for the cost of inflation.”
“In other words, as a result of this success, American Samoa’s Medicaid funding will double by 2008 and this should lead to improved health care at LBJ. For this reason, I thank my colleagues including Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo from Guam, Congresswoman Donna Christensen from the Virgin Islands, Chairman Joe Barton and Ranking Member Dingell of the House Committee on Energy, and Chairman Dan Burton of the Government Reform Subcommittee on Wellness.”
“For more than a year and a half we have successfully worked together to bring this about and we are pleased that both Republicans and Democrats have supported our efforts. From hearings to amendments to letters to meetings with Chairman Barton and Ranking Member Dingell, we have aggressively worked to bolster support.”
“On December 14, 2005, we also joined together and wrote to Chairman Judd Gregg and Ranking Member Kent Conrad of the Senate Committee on the Budget as well as Chairman Jim Nussle and Ranking Member John Spratt of the House Committee on the Budget. On the same date, we also wrote to the Chairman Charles Grassley and Ranking Member Max Baucus of the Senate Committee on Finance.”
“I am pleased that our work has paid off for the U.S. territories and, again, I say that this is a classic example of how American Samoa and other territories cannot afford to play partisan politics. Because we have no vote on the House floor and no representation in the Senate, we must work with our colleagues in both the Democratic and Republican parties. As a direct result of this strategy, we have been successful in passing very important legislation for American Samoa and the other insular possessions.”
“In fact, this strategy has made it possible for us to double American Samoa’s Medicaid funding by 2008. Once the President signs today’s historic legislation into law, I am hopeful that this adjustment will have a significant impact in helping to address our health care disparities,” the Congressman concluded.