American Samoa Governor Tells Congresswoman Her Plan Will Devastate Territory

Moliga: reiterated the need for a new hospital but said without sufficient Medicaid funding to cover medical services, a new facility will not improve the health care of our people

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, August 16, 2017) – American Samoa Gov. Lolo Moliga has informed U.S. Congresswoman Aumua Amata her plan to repurpose funding under the Affordable Care Act to construct a new hospital would “devastate “ the territory’s ability to cover medical care costs.

This is contained in a letter penned by the governor a week after a House subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill, where the congresswoman questioned American Samoa’s Medicaid Director Sandra King Young as to why $150 million in Medicaid funding hasn’t been spent.

The governor told the congresswoman, “Now is the time for your office and my administration to make clear the reasons for extending the ACA Medicaid funds and work together to preserve these funds for American Samoa.”

At the hearing, the governor in written testimony sought the extension of the 2019 deadline for the unspent Medicaid funds.

Lolo told the congresswoman in his letter, “I am also asking you to not only make extending the Affordable Care Act deadline a priority, but to also fight for permanent solutions so that the U.S. territories are treated equally like the U.S. states.”

He adds, “It is more important for the territory to preserve the ACA funding stream for our health care services because these funds already exist under the ACA law for medical services.”

One idea that is being floated is to redirect the unspent ACA funding to build a new hospital.

Governor Moliga informed the congresswoman that this approach would devastate our ability to cover all medical care services, including reimbursements for the Federally Qualified Health Center and off-island Medical Referral program.

He reiterated the need for a new hospital but said without sufficient Medicaid funding to cover medical services, a new facility will not improve the health care of our people.

Lolo emphasized that the ACA Medicaid funding issue is the most critical issue that the territory faces and “we need your influence and support to achieve the goal of extending these critical ACA funds.”

“It does not serve our territory for your office and my administration to be at odds on the Medicaid issues, especially given the achievements we are now realizing thanks to the hard work done by our Medicaid agency.”

The achievements that Governor Lolo lists includes approvals for the federally Qualified Health Center, extending Medicaid coverage to the Department of Health Community health centers, and the off island Medical Referral program.

The governor reminded the congresswoman that the Medicaid director had informed her back in February 2015 about extending the ACA deadline, lifting the cap and improving the local match percentage.

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