US House passes Medicaid, relief funding for American Samoa

by | Jan 16, 2019 | Congress | Comments

The United States House of Representatives has passed significant Medicaid and nutrition assistance funding for American Samoa as part of a disaster relief package that includes funding for Cyclone Gita relief efforts. It is estimated that the bill’s 100 percent Medicaid match waiver would save American Samoa over $10 million throughout the year, and the nutrition assistance for American Samoa is another $5 million, which was added specifically in an Amendment from Rep. Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen.

The passed bill, HR 268, is an Emergency Appropriations bill for Disaster Assistance for the many states and territories suffering from wildfires, hurricanes, flooding and other disasters including Cyclone Gita which devastated American Samoa.

This emergency supplemental bill provided an additional $52 million in Medicaid matching funds for American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands for 2019. These funds will cover 100 percent of the Medicaid matching costs for the American Samoan government and other territories.

In addition, an amendment by Delegate Amata to direct the US Secretary of Agriculture to make an additional $5 million in nutrition assistance funds available for American Samoa was included in final passage of the bill. Thus, the bill will provide significant disaster relief funding for nutrition assistance programs, and waive American Samoa’s Medicaid match requirements for the rest of 2019 as requested by Delegate Amata.

“Waiving the Medicaid match will make a big difference for American Samoa,” said Aumua Amata. “I’m pleased to see this progress for our Medicaid needs, congressional recognition of the impact of storm Gita with important relief funds for American Samoa, and the specific inclusion of my amendment to ensure American Samoa’s additional $5 million for much needed funding for nutrition assistance programs in American Samoa. I look forward to working with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Governor Lolo’s team in the coming months to implement these funds. These provisions are a significant help for American Samoa,” said the delegate. “I want to thank Governor Lolo and his staff and advisors both in American Samoa and Washington, DC for their assistance in providing my office with the data and justifications required by Congress to move this much needed emergency appropriations legislation.”

“I also want to thank my colleagues in Congress on both sides of the aisle for their assistance in helping pass the provisions in the emergency supplemental bill affecting American Samoa,” continued Amata. “Especially, Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (R) for acting as my designee and offering my amendment to direct the Secretary of Agriculture to provide an additional $5 million in nutritional assistance to American Samoa from the funds passed in HR 268; my friend Delegate Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D) for his leadership in helping secure an additional $52 million in Medicaid funds for the CNMI, American Samoa and Guam; to House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition Chairman, Representative Sanford Bishop (D) for working with my office and supporting our Amendment; Chairman Jim McGovern (D) of the House Rules Committee for approving our Amendment; and finally Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D) of the House Appropriations Committee who managed the passage of the bill and all the Committee’s staff for their efforts to aid American Samoa,” Congresswoman Amata concluded.

The bill now proceeds to the Senate for consideration.