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HomeNewsElections 2016Democrats Put Insular Territories Issues in Party Platform

Democrats Put Insular Territories Issues in Party Platform

The Democratic Party put supporting the right of peoples in the USVI and other insular territories to self-determination, vote for president and be included in the 2010 Affordable Care Act into the party platform, former Delegate Donna Christensen reported from Philadelphia Monday evening.

Christensen is chairing the V.I. Democratic Party delegation the Democratic National Convention this week in Philadelphia. The plank adopted Monday evening is "a long way from the draft" originally brought to the DNC for consideration, Christensen said in an email.

As of July 1, the draft platform contained a plank that said, in its entirety:

"We support full self-government and self-determination for the people of the territories of Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and their right to decide their future status."

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But the plank approved Monday specifically supports self-determination, self-government, the right to decide future status, the right to vote for president, a vote in Congress, local access to Veterans Administration health care for veterans. And it supports at least "reviewing the feasibility" of including the USVI and other insular territories in the 2010 Affordable Care Act and raising the Medicaid cap.

While states get more Medicaid funds based directly on their income levels, the insular territories do not, and have a low cap on total funding. They received more funding through ACA but are still at a lower level of support, with higher matching requirements than the states. The three health-care related provisions, if enacted into law, would provide millions in health care funding to each of the insular territories.

The party platform is historically a set of guiding principles that is not necessarily deeply binding on Democratic members of Congress. So even if Democrats take control of Congress, it is not guaranteed the provisions will be enacted. And right now the Republican Party controls both houses of Congress and are vehemently opposed to expanding the ACA.

But this year the party platform is getting a lot more detailed attention in the press and from Democratic Party candidates because of the hard-fought primary battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and Sanders’ highly publicized effort to impact the platform before endorsing Clinton.

The outcome of the upcoming general election, both for the presidency and in Congress, and many other factors, will affect how likely, how soon and how much of the platform is brought about. 

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