Gov. Eddie is seeking the inclusion of Guam in a U.S. Senate bill that would provide Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands appropriations for health programs and unfunded federal mandates such as the Earned Income Tax Credit.
“I urge you to please revitalize efforts to have Guam reimbursed for EITC by including all territories in S.2165,” Gov. Eddie Calvo said in a letter to Guam’s delegate to Congress Madeleine Bordallo.
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced S.2165 — the Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands Equitable Rebuild Act of 2017 — in November. If passed into federal law, would appropriate money to the two U.S. territories for disaster recovery, eliminate the Medicaid cap, rebase Medicare targets for territories’ hospitals based on a 12-month cost reporting for FY2015; and reimburse them for EITC payouts to the working poor. Bordallo said the companion legislation in the House of Representatives, H.R. 4782, includes Guam.
“It has always been my priority in Congress to ensure that Guam and the territories are treated equitably. While the Senate was focused on legislation primarily for disaster recovery for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands following last year’s devastating hurricanes, my House colleagues and I understand that all territories experience similar challenges with federal programs,” Bordallo said.
“This is why we introduced companion legislation in the House, also named the Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands Equitable Rebuild Act, but ours incorporates many of the provisions to Guam and the other Pacific territories.”
Calvo said the proposed legislation opens a door for Congress to address injustices to Guam if the island is added to the bill and it becomes law.
“In light of federal policies that have strangled Guam’s economy, such as H2B visa denials, or that have jeopardized GovGuam’s ability to provide essential services to all residents — from the lack of promised appropriate reimbursement in Compact impact to failing to fund EITC,” Calvo states, “it is imperative that the Congresswoman, our voice to Congress, add Guam to S.2165 and then urge her peers in Washington D.C. to help all of the territories by passing the bill.”
Guam residents who qualify for EITC are paid – to the tune of $60 million a year or about $350 million in the last seven years — all out of local coffers. For residents living in U.S. states, the federal government funds EITC payments. Previous legislation was introduced in 2015 to reimburse all territories for EITC. That bill died in Congress.
Guam Memorial Hospital and the administration have been able to get some reimbursement of Medicare for specific years. However, it is a long and lengthy process just to get reimbursed for one year. The goal has always been to update the rebasing levels, which means Guam would be reimbursed at current rates instead of 1997 rates.
“Congress has not lived up to its promise to reimburse states and territories that host FAS migrants,” a press release from Adelup said. “In 2017 alone, GovGuam incurred $147.3 million to provide educational and social services to citizens from the Freely Associated States who now live in Guam. The cumulative from 2004 to 2017, comes up to a whopping $1.2 billion.”
Bordallo said the House companion bill would cover over for EITC, fixes to Medicaid, reimbursement solutions for Guam Memorial Hospital, and others.
“My House colleagues will push for our bill to be adopted should we go to conference with the Senate bill. I will also continue to work closely with Governor Calvo to use the One Guam voice to approach issues important to our people,” she added.