With the Republicans attempting to cut Medicaid funding to the territories by 65 percent over the next decade in attempt to eliminate $96.76 million from the federal budget, Delegate Donna M. Christensen vowed Monday to lead her fellow territorial delegates in the fight against the Republicans.
In the 50 states and the District of Columbia, there is no limit on federal payments for Medicaid. Funding to Virgin Islands was capped at $13.6 million in Fiscal Year 2009. The result of this chronic underfunding is that too many patients in the territories receive inadequate care, too many providers are not adequately compensated and the territorial governments have to bear the financial burden for health care delivery to the poor and uninsured, according to an evening press release from the delegate’s office.
“This is the new money, and money we worked hard to get, as a part of health care reform,” Christensen said. “With this new funding, we sought to mitigate the profoundly unjust treatment that the 4.1 million Americans in the territories, including the U.S. Virgin Islands, have always been subject to under the Medicaid program.”
Christensen could not be reached for further comment.
The release stated the funding increase came under the Affordable Care Act, and Christensen said it narrowed the inequality between the states and territories, but did not eliminate it.
It raised the severely low caps on federal funding but did not remove them, she said.
“I am waiting on information from the Department of Health and the administration’s Task Force on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act on what their plans for the use of these monies are,” Christensen said. “I understand that they had not yet been drawn down.”
She said the proposal by Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee Budget is likely to pass the House of Representatives, but may not move further until a lame duck session later this year.
“We have some time to rectify the situation in the Virgin Islands, but not much time to work to defeat this proposal,” she said.
Christensen said that this is the second major attack on territorial funding in this Congress, the first being the attempts to move territorial transportation funding from its customary revenue stream and place it as a standalone, which is subject to further attack.
“Anyone who thinks this Congress is going to dole out millions of dollars should disabuse themselves of that notion,” she said. “The territories intend to stand together and fight to preserve what we have and to take advantage of all that is available right now.”