PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OFFICE OF THE V.I. CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATE

No. 2172 Page 1 of 1              Contact: Monique Clendinen Watson – monique.watson@mail.house.gov

Christensen’s Efforts To Change the MEDICAID Match Pay Off

Territories Match Can Drop to 43%, 22% For Newly Eligible

 

(Washington, DC – January 14, 2014) – Delegate to Congress Donna M. Christensen learned late Monday that her efforts to reduce the territory’s MEDICAID match is paying off as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that the U.S. Territories will be eligible to receive two increases in the federal dollars provided, thereby decreasing the share that they must contribute to utilize the funding.

Congresswoman Christensen said this means that the U.S. Virgin Islands and the other territories should be able, if they provide the correct information, to increase the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) which determines the federal contribution to 57.2% in 2014 and 2015. The current FMAP is 55 percent. It also provides for a 78% FMAP (retroactive to January 1, 2014) for “newly eligible” individuals who have been added to the MEDICAID rolls as a result of the Affordable Care Act.  “A 78% FMAP means that the federal government contributes 78 cents for every $1 dollar in total MEDICAID spending. This would be a great improvement for us,” she explained.

“This is the result of years of my work and that of the other territorial delegates to increase the MEDICAID dollars to our islands,” said Congresswoman Christensen. “While it isn’t the full change we are working towards in H.R. 79, the Medicaid Payment Fairness to the Territories Act of 2013, these changes can make a big difference and enable us to use more of the hundreds of millions of new MEDICAID dollars we were able to get in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and allow the Virgin Islands Department of Human Services to cover even more people than they had planned,” she said.

“At a Health Care Taskforce meeting early last year, I pledged to work to get the same match that states got for our “newly eligible” Medicaid beneficiaries.  While yesterday’s announcement is not the full 100% FMAP that I had been championing, it is a major win,” said Congresswoman Christensen. “I encourage the Virgin Islands government to seize this opportunity to do what is necessary to get these increases in place, and I pledge my assistance.”

Congresswoman Christensen thanked Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and CMS for their increased sensitivity to the plight of the U.S. Virgin Islands and other territories, and looks forward to further discussions on the improved implementation of the ACA in the offshore areas when we meet at the Intergovernmental Affairs (IGIA) meeting next month, she said.