If it becomes law, a bill passed by U.S Congress that could take away millions in Medicaid funding for the CNMI would be devastating, a top official of the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. said.
“It would be devastating for our people, the hospital and the entire health care system,” CHCC chief executive officer Esther Muna told Saipan Tribune.
The Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives has voted to take away approximately $26 million in Medicaid funding for the Northern Mariana Islands that was part of the Affordable Care Act. Funding for other insular areas was also cut.
“To date that amounts to over $52 million, new money that was essential to keeping the Commonwealth Health Center open after the hospital lost local funding. And the Northern Marianas still has another $57 million in the Affordable Care Act pipeline between now and 2019. What the Republican bill would do is end all of that funding in 2017—a loss of about $26 million to CHC and to the low-income families who depend on Medicaid to pay for their health care,” said Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP).
The bill now goes to President Barack Obama, who is expected to veto it.
“It is unfortunate that the Republicans who are deciding this have no idea how limited access to quality health care is here in the CNMI and the rest of the territories,” Muña said. “How the Medicaid program works for the territories compared to the 50 states is one huge factor for the inequity.”
“We›ve been fighting for health equity and obviously, an act like this will drive us further away from it and hurt many more individuals and families,” Muña added.