Delegate working on for having $88.73M Community Disaster Loan forgiven
Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) said over the weekend that the Marianas Medicaid will receive $482.35 million over the next eight years.
In his e-kilili newsletter, Sablan also disclosed that he is working to make sure that the $88.73 million that Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres borrowed for the CNMI as a Community Disaster Loan is forgiven.
The delegate said Marianas Medicaid will get $482,350,000 under the terms of a bipartisan agreement approved by the U.S. House Health Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday.
He said H.R. 4406 also sets the local match requirement for the Marianas at 17%, lower than for any state.
Sablan thanked Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-New Jersey 6th District), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA 5th District), ranking member, who worked on their respective sides of the aisle to reach this agreement.
He said their deal extends through 2029 the two-year funding increase and 83/17 improved federal/local matching rates that they enacted in 2020 for the CNMI, Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The delegate said H.R. 4406 also provides Puerto Rico with a five-year extension at a federal/local match of 76/24.
Pallone said during Thursday’s mark-up that this would be the longest extension of increased Medicaid funding for the U.S. territories other than the extension they were able to provide in the Affordable Care Act.
Sablan said that, like Pallone, he remains committed to a permanent funding solution for all territories.
On the $88.7 million CNMI loan, the delegate said that language to forgive such money borrowed from the federal government this year was added to the fiscal 2022 Homeland Security spending bill during Monday’s Appropriations Committee mark-up.
In May 2022, Torres asked Sablan for a change in federal law that would allow him to obtain a Community Disaster Loan from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to fund CNMI government operations. The delegate said he did include the necessary statutory change in the fiscal 2021 omnibus appropriation, Public Law 116-260, that was enacted in December. Sablan said Torres quickly borrowed $88,734,930.
“Given how shaky our economy is right now, however, I do not want the people of the Marianas saddled with so much debt,” Sablan said.
He said this week’s action in U.S. Congress was a first step toward that goal for loan forgiveness.
Last April, Torres said the $88.73-million loan will settle the CNMI’s outstanding obligations associated with its response to Super Typhoon Yutu’s devastation in the CNMI in October 2018.
FEMA already loaned the CNMI $5 million at 0.25% interest on Sept. 30, 2020. The $88.73 million is the remainder of the loan amount.