The PJ Tatler

Virgin Islands Delegate Tells House Colleagues Five Territories are Treated Unfairly

The Virgin Islands’ delegate to Congress blasted her House colleagues for a move to repeal gains made by the U.S. territories in securing Medicaid funds under ObamaCare.

In the 50 states and the District of Columbia, there are no limits on federal payments for Medicaid. The U.S. Virgin Islands was capped at $13.6 million in FY 09. ObamaCare raised the federal caps for the territories, which have to make up the shortfall, but did not eliminate the caps as territorial lawmakers have tried to achieve.

In attempt to cut $96.76 billion over the next decade from the federal budget, House Republicans are proposing to repeal Section 1204 of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, which would cut total federal funding for Medicaid in the territories by 65 percent over the next decade.

“It is difficult to put into words how disappointed I am that we are considering legislation that would repeal a provision that mitigated, but by no means ended, the unequal treatment that Americans in the five U.S. territories have long received under Medicaid,” Del. Donna M. Christensen (D-V.I.) said at today’s Energy and Commerce Committee markup of the repeal.

Christensen said tomorrow she will offer an amendment to restore the funding, saying that new monies were already being used to increase health services and the number enrolled in Medicaid.

“And yet, in this bill, the majority proposes to repeal every penny in new Medicaid funding for the territories and to return us to a prior status quo that no reasonable observer could believe was fair and that every reasonable observer recognized as discriminatory,” she said. “We can only assume that this cut was proposed because the territories are viewed as an easy target, since we lack voting representation in this chamber and have no representation in the Senate.”

Christensen has charged that this is the second major attack on territorial funding in this Congress, the first being the attempts to move territorial transportation funding from its customary revenue stream and place it as a stand-alone.

“I will remind the committee that residents of the territories are proud, loyal Americans,” she said. “They serve in disproportionate numbers in the U.S. armed in addition to hundreds of thousands of veterans, tens of thousands have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, and nearly 170 of them have lost their lives.”

“With this bill, you have sent a terrible message to these men and women: namely, that they are ‘American enough’ to defend our country in combat, but somehow not ‘American enough’ to receive a modicum of fair treatment under a critical federal health program,” Christensen concluded.