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Capitol Correspondence - 03.23.21

ANCOR Joins Coalition Letter Urging Congress to Fund Medicaid in U.S. Territories

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As part of our work with a coalition known as the Partnership for Medicaid, ANCOR joined 15 other organizations in a letter urging Congress to pass legislation giving U.S. territories—American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands—access to the full benefits of the Medicaid program. This letter is in response to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which oversees Medicaid, holding a hearing on the Insular Area Medicaid Parity Act. Access the legislation text here, and a recording of the hearing here.

As written in the letter:

“While we are thankful for Congress’ past work to increase Medicaid funding and support over the years, we hope that the Committee will work to pass legislation to address the longstanding inequities in Medicaid affecting the territories. We hope that the Committee will consider H.R.265, the Insular Area Medicaid Parity Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by Congressman Sablan and Congresswoman Radewagen, to lift the Medicaid funding cap in the U.S. Territories. The Committee’s hearing today demonstrates how Congress can ensure that Americans who reside in American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have full access to the benefits of Medicaid. We look forward to working with you to make this legislation a reality.

The Medicaid program continues to be a vital lifeline for vulnerable individuals, families and children. Our members see the value that Medicaid provides to ensure the optimal health and well-being of beneficiaries enrolled in the program. Unfortunately, due to limitations in the funding statute, the Medicaid program operates differently in the U.S. Territories compared to those of the states through capped funding and a fixed federal medical assistance percentage. This discrepancy results in fewer federal dollars supporting territorial governments which in turn affects the financial viability of their Medicaid programs. At a recent meeting of the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, Medicaid Directors from the territories outlined the challenges their jurisdictions faced as a result of the inequitable funding mechanism of the Medicaid program as they addressed the dual public health and economic crisis arising from the pandemic. The territory leaders linked the existence of capped Medicaid funds and the detrimental effects it has on reimbursing providers fairly, which in turn affects beneficiary access to needed care.”