Governors Protest Medicaid Reform Defunding
Posted by Jean
Greaux on April 25, 2012 at 3:30 PM AST
Governor de Jongh
and four other territorial governors have sent a letter to members of the House of Representatives defending recently enacted funding for Medicaid programs in the U.S. insular
The letter urges Michigan Congressman Frederick S. Upton, Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and fellow House Republicans to abandon plans to deny funding granted to the territories under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The historic health care reform law addressed discrimination against the territories and their four and a half million residents that had been maintained through statutory Medicaid caps and matching rates lower than those received by any U.S. state.
“These limitations have hindered the access of U.S. citizens in the Territories to adequate health care, while imposing extreme fiscal hardships on severally constrained Territorial health budgets,” the letter states.
While The Affordable Care Act did not bring full equality to the territories, it established a pathway to achieving parity with other jurisdictions in federal support. Now Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee have proposed to revert to a system in which territories “have historically been discriminated against in federal health care policy, particularly, in Medicaid.”
“It would be unfair in the extreme to single out the Territories,” the letter states. In addition to Governor
de Jongh, the letter was signed by Puerto Rico Governor Luis G. Fortuno, Guam Governor Eddie Baza Calvo, the Northern Marianas Islands Governor Benigno R. Fitial, and American Samoa Governor Tulafono
Governor de Jongh has worked to marshal the territorial governors to ensure they speak to lawmakers with one voice, and has acted as a
liaison between them and the Department of Interior and Department of Health and Human Services.
Such an appeal was necessary in light of the Republican budget proposal, and the failure of the territory's representative in Washington, D.C. over the years to secure parity for the Virgin Islands and other insular areas, according to
Governor de Jongh.
“Our citizens are proud Americans who have proudly borne arms to protect the liberty of all Americans. The proposal to single out and target health care funding for the Territories is an affront to those sacrifices and, we would suggest, an affront to all Americans,” the letter reads.