Guam included in federal health care act - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Guam included in federal health care act

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by Heather Hauswirth

The U.S. House of Representatives has included Guam and the U.S. territories in H.R. 3692, the Affordable Health Care for America Act.  Earlier today Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo accompanied House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and other House representatives in front of the capitol for the bill's introduction.

Michigan congressman John D. Dingell, Jr. is a key sponsor of this legislation, which seeks to reform healthcare insurance through the reduction and expansion of healthcare costs, by lifting insurance caps, strengthening Medicare, providing a public option and prohibiting discrimination by insurance companies for individuals with preexisting conditions.  The expected cost of H.R. 3692 is placed at just below $900 billion over the next twenty years according to the Congressional Budget Office.

H.R. 3692 stipulates that the territories will now have the option to participate in the National Health Insurance Exchange so that individuals without insurance will be able to purchase more affordable insurance.  According to the legislation, Medicaid funding will increase in Guam by an additional $34 million from Fiscal Year 2010 to Fiscal Year 2011, placing Fiscal Year 2011 at $47 million.

Medicaid funding will continue to increase each year until 2019, at which point it is expected to reach $71 million, which is an additional $58 million, plus a base of $13 million.  

Bordallo issued the following statement: "I joined Congressional leadership during the unveiling of H.R. 3692 this morning.  This legislation addresses major health disparities on Guam and puts Guam on a path to full Medicaid funding with the goal of removing the Medicaid cap at the end of the ten-year period.  It gives the territories the option of joining the exchange or using local solutions to address the uninsured, and provides funds to the territorial governments for participation in the exchange."

Bordallo pointed out that she feels the bill does in fact have some short falls as it does not currently provide funds for citizens of the Freely Associated States to be considered for the Medicaid program. Bordallo says she will work with her congressional colleagues to address this and to make sure FAS citizens are eligible.

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