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Cruz Bay
Thursday, September 29, 2022


The people who deliver health care in the Virgin Islands are asking — again — that limits on federal Medicaid funding here be lifted.
Priscilla Berry Quetel, executive director of the Bureau of Health Insurance and Medical Assistance, said the federal cap, combined with an unfair percentage required of the local government to match the funding, has caused a $21 million deficit in medical claim payments over the last six years, the Daily News reported Friday.
This is not a new issue. In fact, it is one that congressional delegates and local officials have been trying to address for many years.
Quetel spoke at the annual meeting Thursday of the V.I. Alliance for Primary Care, urging local government officials to lobby Washington to bring V.I. benefits closer to those the states receive where there are no limitations. Senators and administration officials were there for the discussions.
Quetel said Medicaid recipients in the states receive, on the average annually, $3,311 compared to $670 in the Virgin Islands. There are now 20,000 clients on Medicaid but more than 40,000 persons should be receiving benefits, the Daily News reported.
Dr. Mavis Matthew, Maternal and Child Health director, said there are more than 11,000 uninsured children in the territory. Medicaid, which is different from Medicare, serves persons under 65 who are not covered by insurance.
The local government contributed $2.89 million to Medicaid in 1998 but left unpaid $4.16 million, the Daily News story said. The federal government paid only $5.26 million for services rendered in the Virgin Islands.
Because the local government does not have the matching funds for many programs and some venders are not being paid, V.I. residents are not receiving many services that should be available. Nursing home and home-health-care services, physician specialists, long-term care, drugs, occupational and physical therapy, medical appliances, dentures and prosthetic devices cannot be provided and must be paid by the patient’s family.
Resolutions prepared by the group included:
— Suggestions for changes in V.I. law that would, among other things, update labels such as "Crippled Children" to "Special Care Needs Children."
— Continued efforts to obtain SSI benefits for V.I. residents.
— Suggested review of local insurance carriers' policies to provide health insurance to children from birth to 21.

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