Mar 2, 2005 – The campaign to lift the cap on Medicaid in the territories remains at the forefront of Delegate Donna Christensen's agenda with the federal government.
According to a press release from her office, Christensen attended a Tuesday afternoon meeting of the White House's Interagency Group on Insular Affairs and stressed her initiatives to get the cap lifted in the 109th Congress.
Christensen told the group of representatives from federal agencies and departments at the annual meeting with territorial governors and delegates that, in addition to GAO's study on Medicaid and how its services in the territories compares to services in similarly sized communities on the mainland, she is initiating a study on the health impact of the cap.
"I recently joined my Republican colleagues and a bipartisan group of Senators in introducing a bill to create a Medicaid study commission," Christensen said. She added that she is also looking forward to a hearing in the Energy and Commerce Committee in the House. "We also plan to work at developing cooperative agreements between our hospitals and the Department of Health and Human Services and need everyone's support," she said.
The press release also reported that Christensen spoke of her legislation to have a territorial representative in each agency, who could have a clearer understanding of how policies and budgets impact the territories. "I still feel that there is a need for a clearly articulated and specific unifying policy for how the country views and deals with the territories," she said.
She also took the opportunity to advocate a fully integrated financial management system to accompany her proposal for a Chief Financial Officer. Pointing out that she and Gov. Charles Turnbull agree on the need for such a system, she asked each agency to consider "setting aside a small portion of funding to the local V.I. agency in one or two years or utilizing unspent federal funds in the Virgin Islands in whole or in part instead of returning it to the general fund."
Christensen urged the group to consider doing a study to look at alleged inequities in spending between the St. Croix and St. Thomas-St. John districts. "We have to look at the issues that are being raised by the Self Government Committee," she said. "Whether or not disparities exist, a study could help to clarify the issue."
Christensen also supported Turnbull's remarks in regards to the importance of the EDA program to the territory and spoke of plans to reintroduce legislation to provide that the territories be consulted during the negotiations of Trade Agreements to forestall potential negative impacts of these agreements.
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