Congressman Faleomavaega today announced that he will continue to work with his Democratic colleagues in Congress to ensure that critical funding for American Samoa’s Medicaid program is not affected by Republican proposals to significantly reduce federal healthcare funding for the five U.S. Territories.
The Republican proposed cuts to American Samoa’s Medicaid program originated in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce which oversees healthcare issues. The legislation, put forward by Republican Chairman Fred Upton, seeks to repeal a provision of Affordable Care Act (ACA) that provided $6.3 billion in additional funding for Medicaid in the territories from FY 2011 to FY 2019, and increased the territories’ Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) from 50% to 55%. The proposal follows the Republican’s own directive in the FY 2013 budget approved by the House last month that required the Energy and Commerce Committee to submit legislation to reduce the deficit by $96.76 billion over the next decade.
In a letter to Chairman Fred Upton, dated April 20, 2012, Congressman Faleomavaega, along with his colleagues from the U.S. Territories, Pedro Pierluisi (Puerto Rico), Donna Christensen (U.S. Virgin Islands), Madeleine Bordallo (Guam), and Gregorio “Kilili” Camacho Sablan (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands), voiced their strong opposition to the proposed cuts. Another letter to Chairman Upton, dated April 25, 2012, from all Democratic members of the House Natural Resources Committee, led by Ranking Member Edward Markey and including Congressman Faleomavaega, denounced the Republican proposed legislation.
Furthermore, Representative Donna Christensen of the U.S Virgin Islands, a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, offered an amendment to block the Republican proposal in the Committee. But the amendment was defeated on a party-line vote of 30 to 21. The bill passed in Committee on April 25, 2012 and is expected to be considered by the full House in the coming weeks.
“While I understand the need for fiscal reform and the important work we must do in Congress to reduce the deficit, I do not believe that any budget alternative should be taken out on America’s most vulnerable populations,” Congressman Faleomavaega stated.
“The residents of the five U.S. Territories, numbering more than 4 million, have historically received unequal treatment under the Medicaid program in comparison to the States. For example, some of the country’s poorest states receive upwards of 80 percent in their federal matching requirement (FMAP) for Medicaid and do not have a mandated funding cap on their Medicaid program. The Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010 without a single Republican vote, sought to address some of these disparities. While it did not fully close the inequality gap, it did provide a major step forward for the Territories. Out of the $6.3 billion in additional funding to the Territories, the ACA increased American Samoa’s Medicaid funding to a total of $285.5 million over the nine year period from FY 2011-FY 2019, compared to $105 million without the legislation.”
“The Affordable Care Act was a major step forward for American Samoa and the U.S. Territories, but this Republican bill only seeks to reverse our progress towards equality under the Medicaid program. If this bill were to be enacted, American Samoa’s FY 2012 funding cap of approximately $28 million will revert back to a pre-ACA ceiling of approximately $10.6 million next year,” said Congressman Faleomavaega.
“At this time, I, along with my fellow Territorial delegates will continue to work hard to ensure that this bill does not become law. It is highly unlikely that the Senate will pass or the President will sign into law such a bill that would repeal such important funding for our Territories.”
“As stated in our joint Territorial letter to Chairman Upton, this proposal has sent ‘a terrible message of exclusion to our constituents’ by proposing to cut every single dollar of our new funding under the Affordable Care Act. The President’s Administration has offered several alternatives to deficit reduction, and like my Democratic colleagues from the Territories as well as our Territorial governors, I do not believe that taking important funding away from our needy healthcare systems in the Territories is a good solution to the deficit.”
“I thank my colleagues for their tireless advocacy on behalf of more than 4 million residents in the U.S. Territories, and I ensure the people of American Samoa that we will continue to fight hard to protect the Territory’s Medicaid funding,” Faleomavaega concluded.