PHILADELPHIA—Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) spoke before the Democratic National Convention, along with other members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. Sablan introduced himself to the Convention and a national television audience as the representative of the people of the Northern Mariana Islands. And he highlighted one reason he has endorsed Secretary Hillary Clinton to be the next President of the United States.
“I support Hillary Clinton because she believes that all Americans—including those in the Pacific Island territories—should have access to quality, affordable healthcare,” Sablan said.
The unique health care needs of the Pacific Island territories are recognized in the Democratic Party Platform approved by the convention on Monday night. In it the party states it takes “seriously the unique health care challenges that Pacific Island communities face” and affirms its commitment to “health care as a fundamental right for every American.”
“I’m proud that our platform in so many ways reflects the unique needs of the Marianas and the territories of the United States,” said Mona Manglona, member of the Marianas delegation. “Health care is one of the important issues that needs to be addressed in the Commonwealth.”
Equal treatment for the Marianas under federal healthcare programs is a longstanding goal for Sablan. He was part of the congressional team negotiating with President Barack Obama in 2010 that resulted in a $109-million increase in Medicaid funding for the Northern Marianas through the Affordable Care Act. The money, which has been going to the Commonwealth Healthcare Center at the rate of over $1 million every month, has been essential to keeping the Commonwealth’s only hospital open. Medicaid is the federal program that insures low-income individuals.
“I am looking forward to working with President Hillary Clinton to enact the healthcare policies President Obama has set out for the insular areas,” Sablan said. In the Fiscal Year 2017 budget, President Obama proposed removing the cap on federal Medicaid payments to the insular areas and increasing the federal share of Medicaid from the current 55 percent to 83 percent, the same as the highest percentage provided to any U.S. state.
Other CAPAC members highlighted Clinton’s plan for debt-free college, better care for veterans, and comprehensive immigration reform. (PR)