Kilili: Medicaid funding increase bill still under review


A federal legislation that would boost Medicaid funding for the CNMI is still under review, according to Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP), who told Saipan Tribune in a statement that the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate are still working on the language of H.R. 2328, the Reauthorize and Extend the America’s Community Health Act, or REACH Act.

“At present, the [U.S.] House is working with the [U.S.] Senate Finance Committee on bill language that will be acceptable to the Senate,” Sablan said. “I believe the REACH Act will be brought to the House floor for a vote, when the compromise language has been agreed.”

The REACH Act raises the annual block grant for the Northern Marianas from $6.95 million to $60 million and results in a Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage reportedly “comparable” to the U.S. state with the lowest per-capita income.

CNMI Medicaid got $36 million additional funding through H.R. 2157, or the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019, which was enacted in early June 2019. Yet just three months later, $31 million of that amount had already been used up, according to a previous statement from Gov. Ralph DLG Torres.

H.R. 2328 is being looked at as a great way to boost Medicaid funding for the CNMI. Sablan said as much. “This bill is particularly important to the Marianas. It significantly increases our Medicaid funding over a multi-year period. It also frees us from the formula for allocating Medicaid among the insular areas that has put the Marianas at a disadvantage for decades.”

“I have worked long and hard on the Medicaid issue and the REACH Act offers our best opportunity ever to improve the program for the Marianas,” he added.

Also included in the REACH Act is language that secures multi-year funding for community health centers, such as the Kagman Community Health Center and the Tinian Community Health Center.

The legislation already left the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce in July 2019.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.
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