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Medicaid becomes clashing point in Northern Mariana Islands governor’s race

by | Sep 6, 2022 | Elections, Northern Mariana Islands | 0 comments

The US House of Representatives passed the American Rescue Plan Act in 2021. The goal of the Act is to help states and territories recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill seeks to increase access to vaccines and provide economic relief.  

The American Rescue Plan has become imperative for the Northern Mariana Islands. The pandemic has hit the territory particularly hard; deaths per 1000 are twice the average in the United States.  

The effects of COVID-19 have become a major discussion in the upcoming race for governor. Current governor Ralph Torres (R) is seeking reelection against Christina Sablan (D). 

The American Rescue Plan offers the territory $28 million for Medicaid. However, Torres and his government must match $5 million to receive the subsidy. House committees have prompted Torres to take the offer. With the healthcare crisis worsening in the islands, there is pressure on Torres to act.

If he does not contribute $5 million, the federal government will rescind the offer of $28 million. Without this financial support, Medicaid agencies will have to close critical healthcare providers. Such shutdowns will decrease the availability of doctors and increase wait times for treatments. 

Sablan has made her stance on the American Rescue Plan clear. She has criticized Torres for his lack of urgency in matching the $5 million. Torres responded that he believes the Northern Mariana Islands have enough Medicaid. He has also disapproved of Sablan’s use of the media as a mediator, imploring Sablan to address her concerns directly, rather than through the media. 

The elections will be held this November. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sanjana Sitaram

Sanjana Sitaram

Sanjana Sitaram is a junior at Brentwood High School in Tennessee. She was born in Singapore and has lived in Germany, England, and now the United States. These global experiences have given her an appreciation to recognize and understand the differences in cultures and peoples. Sanjana enjoys public forum debates, and also has a passion for Bharatanatyam, India’s oldest classical dance. In her spare time, she finds it fulfilling to teach refugees in Nashville basic English and Math skills, helping them have a stronger foundation in education and become more acclimated to a new environment. Sanjana is a Political Affairs Intern Correspondent at Pasquines.

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