The U.S territories have faced an array of longstanding fiscal and health challenges that were exacerbated by recent natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic. This policy watch examines how Medicaid funding for the territories works, the current allotments, and how the Build Back Better Act (BBA) would change Medicaid funding for the territories going forward. While a version of BBBA has passed the house, its fate in the Senate remains uncertain.
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The U.S territories and the Freely Associated States (FAS) have faced an array of longstanding fiscal and health challenges, made worse by recent natural disasters and the coronavirus pandemic. Community health centers are an important part of health care system in the territories and FAS, providing access to a range of primary care services to low-income and vulnerable individuals. Based on findings from a survey of health centers, data from the Uniform Data System (UDS), and interviews with Primary Care Associations in those regions, this brief examines the roles of health centers in U.S. territories and FAS during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The U.S territories – American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) – have faced an array of longstanding fiscal and health challenges that were exacerbated by recent natural disasters and most recently by the COVID-19 pandemic. Differences in Medicaid financing, including a statutory cap and match rate, have contributed to broader fiscal and health systems challenges for the territories. Congress is currently debating legislation to address the looming Medicaid funding cliff. This brief builds on data in an earlier brief released in May 2021 examining the effects of the pandemic and the implications of the fiscal cliff and incorporates findings from a questionnaire sent to Medicaid Directors in territories in the summer of 2021.
The Pandemic Has Exacerbated Long-Standing Health Care Challenges Faced By Puerto Rico and Other U.S. Territories as the End of Temporary Federal Medicaid Funding Approaches
A new KFF analysis examines how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting U.S. territories as well as issues related to the upcoming expiration of temporary Medicaid funding for the territories at the end of September. Prior to the pandemic, the U.S territories –– American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana…
More than a year into the public health emergency, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the lives of Americans including those living in the U.S. territories. Differences in Medicaid financing, including a statutory cap and match rate, have contributed to broader fiscal and health systems challenges for the territories. While additional federal funds have been provided over the statutory caps, these funds are set to expire at the end of September 2021. Without additional Congressional action, the territories will lose the vast majority of Medicaid financing which could result in reductions in coverage, services, and provider rates which could negatively impact the territories as they deal with the long-term health and economic consequences of the pandemic. This brief looks at how the pandemic is affecting the territories as well as issues related to the upcoming Medicaid fiscal cliff.
Medicaid, the provider of health insurance coverage for about one in five Americans and the largest payer for long-term care services in the community and nursing homes, continues to be a key part of health policy debates at the federal and state level. Key Medicaid issues to watch in 2020 include: Medicaid expansion developments; Section 1115 waiver activity; enrollment and spending trends; benefits, payment and delivery system reforms, and the implications of the 2020 elections.
Abismo en el financiamiento de Medicaid: Implicaciones para los sistemas de atención de salud de Puerto Rico y las Islas Vírgenes de los EE.UU.
Este resumen ofrece una descripción general del estado de los sistemas de atención médica y los programas de Medicaid en Puerto Rico y las Islas Vírgenes de los EE.UU. (USVI) aproximadamente un año y medio después que los huracanes Irma y María azotaran las islas, en septiembre de 2017. Después de las tormentas, los programas de Medicaid de los territorios han servido como recursos importantes para atender las necesidades de atención médica de los residentes, pero han operado bajo desafíos financieros de larga data. Este resumen se enfoca en esos desafíos e incluye el análisis de KFF de las consecuencias para las finanzas de los programas de Medicaid de los territorios, ya que la mayoría de los fondos federales de Medicaid provistos a través de la Ley de Cuidado de Salud a Bajo Precio (ACA), y la asistencia para desastres, expirarán a fines de septiembre de 2019. Los otros territorios de los EE.UU. (Samoa Americana, el Commonwealth de las Islas Marianas del Norte y Guam) también enfrentan retos relacionados con el vencimiento programado de los fondos de ACA. Este resumen se basa en trabajos anteriores y en informes públicos recientes, y en entrevistas con funcionarios de los territorios en los lugares afectados, con proveedores, con responsables de planes de salud de Puerto Rico y beneficiarios.
This brief provides an overview of the status of the health care systems and Medicaid programs in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) about one and a half years after Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck the islands in September 2017. The hurricanes exacerbated the territories’ existing economic and health care challenges by accelerating outmigration of residents and health care providers and destroying homes, schools, health care facilities, and other infrastructure. After the storms, the territories’ Medicaid programs have served as important resources for addressing residents’ health care needs, but they have operated under longstanding financing challenges. This brief focuses on these challenges and includes KFF analysis of the implications for the territories’ Medicaid program finances, as most of the temporary federal Medicaid funds provided through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and disaster relief are set to expire at the end of September 2019. The other U.S. territories (American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam) also face challenges tied to the scheduled expiration of ACA funds.
This brief draws on a survey of and interviews with Medicaid officials in U.S. Territories, as well as other research, to examine key issues and trends in their Medicaid programs. Territories differ from the states on key demographic, economic, and health status indicators. Unlike in the states, where federal Medicaid funding is not capped, and the federal share varies based on states’ per capita income, Medicaid in the territories is subject to a statutory cap and a fixed federal matching rate.
Medicaid, the provider of health insurance coverage for about one in five Americans and the largest payer for long-term care services in the community and nursing homes, continues to be a key part of health policy debates at the federal and state level. Important Medicaid issues to watch in 2019 include Medicaid expansion developments amid ongoing litigation about the ACA’s constitutionality as well as Medicaid demonstration waiver activities, including those focused on work requirements and other eligibility restrictions. States are also likely to continue to pursue initiatives to address the opioid crisis, and the recent passage of bi-partisan legislation with new tools and financing could bolster these efforts. Primary areas of federal policy to watch in 2019 with implications for Medicaid include the expiration of temporary funding for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands in the absence of legislative action as well as potential regulatory changes to public charge policies that would likely lead to Medicaid enrollment declines among immigrant families. Finally, reforms in benefits, payment and delivery systems continue to evolve as states and the federal government focus on managed care, social determinants of health, prescription drugs, and community based long-term care. While beyond the scope of this brief, Congress and states could also consider broader health reform that could expand the role of public programs in health care including Medicare for All or Medicaid buy-in programs that could have significant implications for Medicaid.