Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett released the following statement regarding the U.S. Senate’s deal to provide multiyear Medicaid certainty for the territory:
“This week, the Senate Finance Committee issued a statement indicating that they reached an agreement on a drug pricing and health extenders bill, which includes a package to extend and increase Medicaid funding in the territories. This agreement comes after months of discussion between our office and House and Senate members on the need to resolve the Medicaid Cliff by the end of the year, including increased funding for the territories and a greater percentage of funding from the federal government. The specific Medicaid language in the Senate proposal includes:
1. All territories, including the Virgin Islands, will receive a four-year deal.
2. $126 million annual funding increase for the Virgin Islands for each of fiscal years 2020-2023, which is the same annual increase that was proposed in the bill we prepared in the U.S. House of Representatives.
3. Federal matching funds for the Virgin Islands will remain at the same rate of 100 percent through Dec. 20, 2019.
4. From Dec. 21, 2019 through the end of 2023, the rate of federal matching funds will be 83 percent for Virgin Islanders.
That’s a significant increase from the previous 55 percent cap, and it is the highest possible rate that any state may receive.
“The deal and resulting Medicaid bill from the U.S. Senate addresses each of the requests made by me and my colleagues in the House bill, the REACH Act, which passed in the House Energy and Commerce Committee in July of this year. I am proud of the work my office has done to address and propose a solution to our impending Medicaid Cliff. Many were unsure what language would come out of the Senate, and this is far better than what had been originally discussed.
“My office has spent a tremendous amount of time advocating with my bipartisan Senate counterparts. This language shows that those relationships have paid off. This is a tremendously positive step and relieves the tension felt by many as we awaited a decision that would determine what federal funding would be available for Medicaid services in the next few years. While this is not the number of years we requested, should this bill become law, it ensures that we will be able to continue supporting the thousands of Virgin Islanders currently on Medicaid.”