Thanks to the CNMI’s health partners as well as the efforts of Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (D-MP), the federal match rate for the CNMI’s Medicaid program will now permanently remain at the current 83%.
Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. CEO Esther Muña shared the good news during a news briefing yesterday that Sablan recently informed CHCC that the Biden administration has decided to permanently keep the federal match rate for the CNMI’s Medicaid at 83%, meaning the CNMI would only shoulder 17% of Medicaid-related costs.
“I did get a call from Congressman Sablan…that we’re getting the 83% and it’s permanent. That’s obviously great news. It’s been something that we’ve been fighting for—equitable funding financing for the territories,” she said.
Essentially, Muña said, the CNMI government would now only have to shoulder 17% of medical costs accrued by the Medicaid program. Previously, the CNMI was shouldering 50% before it was lowered to 45% and the CNMI still could not afford it.
CHCC hopes that the 17% match will prove more affordable for the CNMI as it would come from the Commonwealth’s general fund.
“The 83% is going to come from the federal [government] and the 17% is going to come from the local funds appropriated for CHCC. The reason why we opted to do this is because, in the past, we’ve always struggled to find the funds to cover our match. It used to be 50%, then our match was lowered to 45% and that obviously was still very difficult. We are hoping that now, the CNMI can afford 17%,” she said.
Muña said this is a great opportunity for CHCC to look at how it can better address health care access with the extra funding it would save with the federal government shouldering 83% of Medicaid costs.
“This is a great opportunity for us to plan better and also to really address the health issues of the CNMI and even for public health,” she said.
According to Saipan Tribune archives, the Marianas’ current 83% federal match rate, technically called the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage, or FMAP, is higher than it is for any state.
The FMAP was set in U.S. Public Law 116-94 in 2019, extended in U.S. Public Law 117-103, in a previous continuing resolution in early 2022, and again in another fiscal 2023 continuing resolution which was passed on Dec. 20, 2022.
The continuing resolution provided appropriators more time to draft an omnibus spending bill to cover the entire fiscal year which has since been passed, permanently keeping the FMAP for the CNMI at 83%.