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  • By Pacific Island Times News Staff

Sablan introduces Medicaid transparency bill

Gregorio Sablan

Washington, DC.– Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan on Tuesday introduced a bill requiring the federal government to publish online information on Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program spending in the Marianas and other U.S. insular areas. Sablan was joined on the Medicaid and CHIP Territory Transparency and Information Act by Florida Republican Gus Bilirakis.

The representatives from American Samoa, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico also cosponsored Sablan’s bill.

In his introductory statement Sablan explained there is little data on the insular Medicaid programs. But data collection and reporting is important, especially if long-term funding solutions are to be developed for the Marianas and the other insular areas.

Obamacare funding for Medicaid in the islands expires this year; and Sablan is leading the effort in Congress to continue—or increase—what each area receives to provide health care for those who cannot afford insurance.

“Gathering enrollment, utilization, and expenditure data will allow for a greater understanding of our unique health care needs,” Congressman Sablan said, “enabling local government and federal officials to make evidenced-based decisions when it comes to Medicaid program improvements for the insular areas.”

The Medicaid and CHIP Territory Transparency and Information Act requires the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to publish on its website, and periodically update, specified information related to federal expenditures under Medicaid and CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, in each of the insular areas. “One of the difficulties of fixing the Medicaid ‘cliff’ that we face, when Obamacare funding runs out this year, is not knowing how much each area really needs to provide health care to those with the lowest incomes,” Sablan said.

As Vice Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, Sablan held a hearing in May to call attention to the insular Medicaid issue. He invited Marianas Medicaid Director Helen Sablan and Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation Chief Executive Officer Esther Muna, along with other insular officials, to testify.

The Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over Medicaid, quickly followed with its own hearing in June, again inviting the island Medicaid directors.

“That was good news,” Sablan said. “I think we are creating some momentum towards fixing the Medicaid ‘cliff’ problem.”


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