Home News Local government DELEGATE AGAIN PUSHES FOR LIFT OF MEDICAID CAP

DELEGATE AGAIN PUSHES FOR LIFT OF MEDICAID CAP

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March 7, 2003 – As she has in previous sessions of Congress, Delegate Donna M. Christensen made a case for removing the federal Medicaid cap in place for the insular territories when she addressed her U.S. House of Representatives colleagues on Thursday.
Christensen, who is a physician, said the Virgin Islands and other territories can no longer afford to bear the cost of a cap that greatly restricts the availability of Medicaid funding.
Brian Modeste, an aide to Christensen, said that the federal government caps its Medicaid funding for the Virgin Islands at around $6 million.
Christensen said that because of the cap, the territory spends about one-fifth of what the states do on average per patient to care for Medicaid recipients. The two V.I. hospitals are struggling because they cannot collect full payments for services to Medicaid patients, she said.
About 60 percent of the patients admitted to the two hospitals have incomes below the poverty level, she said, and only about one-third of those patients qualify for Medicaid. "The rest of the patients have no coverage whatsoever," she said.
Christensen also asked her colleagues to allow the territory's hospitals to collect Disproportionate Share Payments. Modeste said these are payments made under the Medicaid program to jurisdictions that have a higher than average share of very poor people. He said the availability of such payments would bring another $3 million per year into the territory.
Medicaid is a jointly funded, federal/state health insurance program for low-income aged, blind and disabled people as well as anyone else eligible to receive federally assisted income payments.

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