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  • Writer's pictureBy Pacific Island Times News Staff

Bipartisan bill proposes to extend Medicaid coverage for US territories

Racing against time, U.S. Reps. Darren Soto (D-FL-09) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL-12) today introduced a bill that would guarantee Medicaid funding for U.S. territories ahead of its Sept. 30 expiration.

H.R. 4406, the Supporting Medicaid in the U.S. Territories Act of 2021, provides eight years of funding for Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa and U.S. Virgin Island, and five years for Puerto Rico.

The bill, which seeks to avert the fiscal cliff, is expected to be marked up by the Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee.

“For far too long, Puerto Rico’s health system has operated with uncertainty regarding its Medicaid system,” said Soto. “This has led to a breakdown in healthcare and eroding of hospitals there. This steady funding will be foundational for building Puerto Rico’s healthcare system back better.”

The agreement extends increased funding and Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) levels for five years for Puerto Rico and eight years for the U.S. territories at current FMAP levels (76 percent FMAP for Puerto Rico and 83 percent FMAP for Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa.

H.R. 4406 is co-sponsored by Reps. Jenniffer González-Colón (R-Puerto Rico), Michael F.Q. San Nicolas (D-Guam), Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-American Samoa), Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-Northern Mariana Islands), and Stacey Plaskett (D-U.S. Virgin Islands).

Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, said for individuals facing a cancer diagnosis without access to quality, affordable health coverage, insurance coverage through Medicaid can be the difference between life and death.


"This bipartisan bill to extend funding for Medicaid in Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands is an important step in addressing long-term funding issues that have plagued the Medicaid program in the territories and threatened access to health coverage and funding for hospital systems," Lacasse said in a statement.

“Research shows individuals without access to health insurance are more likely than those with health insurance to be diagnosed with cancer at a later stage when the disease is more costly to treat and survival less likely. We look forward to working with members of Congress to extend funding for this lifesaving program. Doing so is critical to reducing health disparities, especially cancer disparities, improving cancer outcomes and saving more lives from this disease.”

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