By Johnnie Rosario
(Tumon, Guam) Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero has been hiding a potentially devastating cut in Medicaid funding to Guam and the other territories if action isn’t taken to fix what’s been dubbed as the ‘Medicaid Cliff.’
September 30, which is in 10 days, may be the last day Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa gets Medicaid funding. This is the funding that provides health coverage to over 40,000 poor and working families on Guam. The Patient Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as ObamaCare, authorized Medicaid funding and Medical Assistance Percentage caps for the territories through Fiscal Year 2019. FY 2019 ends in 10 days. No further authorization has been made.
Ms. Leon Guerrero met recently with officials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regarding the issue, when she was in Washington, D.C. The problem is that HHS has no power to authorize this funding for Guam. It will take an act of Congress, literally.
While the governor snubbed the opportunity to work with Congressman Mike San Nicolas on a solution, Mr. San Nicolas already was on top of the problem.
On July 9, Mr. San Nicolas co-sponsored House Resolution 3631, along with the Congressional delegates from the territories and Florida Congressman Darren Soto, who is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. H.R. 3631 is in that committee.
The resolution’s sponsors also have been working for Senate passage of the measure.
“We have met with the Puerto Rico Governor on this already and have synced our messaging with the Senate,” Mr. San Nicolas told Kandit News.
Not only has Mr. San Nicolas advocated for continued Medicaid funding to Guam, he managed to ensure language that lifts the arbitrary cap and that provides for 100 percent MAP funding to the island in the first two fiscal years of the authorization.
Such an accomplishment will benefit Guam’s taxpayers by tens of millions annually in saved funds that would otherwise have been matching funds for Medicaid.
Without this authorization, however, the matching funds provision would be moot altogether, as no Medicaid funding will come to Guam if the territories fall over the September 30 Medicaid Cliff.