American Samoa’s unique idea to access Medicaid funding

by Sep 2, 2020American Samoa0 comments

Over this past week, a new piece of legislation has been discussed in the American Samoa Congress. The new piece of legislation calls upon the legalization of medicinal marijuana as a way to gain access to Medicaid funding. 

As of now, the $84 million approved by US Congress for American Samoa cannot be used until American Samoa comes up with about $30 million.

The director for Medicaid, Sandra King Young, spoke at the House Health Committee hearing about considering two possible sources of funding. 

The first method of funding would be a generic sales tax.

Director King Young stated that “the other idea was legalizing medicinal marijuana and then using 100 percent of those taxes for medical but I know that can be a controversial issue and again that is a decision for the legislature.” She went on to say that “otherwise I don’t really know where else we can create new money.”

The Chairman of the House Budget and Appropriations Committee, Vailiuama Steve Leasiolagi, countered Director King Young’s funding ideas by stating that “representatives were leaning towards repealing a wage tax that was going to the local hospital and possibly finding 50 percent of that revenue for Medicaid”. 

He went on to say that the idea to legalize medicinal marijuana was worthy of deliberation and the legislative branch of American Samoa, Fono, was reviewing the idea. He specifically stressed the importance the fund has on the territory’s health needs and the off-island referral program.