Faleomavaega’s office issues press release about IGIA meeting
(PRESS RELEASE) — WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Faleomavaega thanked Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell for a successful annual meeting of the Interagency Group on Insular Affairs (IGIA). The IGIA 2014 Senior Plenary Session was hosted by the U.S. Department of the Interior and co-chaired by Secretary Jewell and White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs David Agnew.
“The IGIA meeting is an opportunity each year for Territorial leaders to convene and discuss a wide range of issues,” Faleomavaega said. “Yesterday’s meeting focused on key issues of importance to the Territories including health care, energy, and tourism marketing.”
“By my direction, Chief Counsel Ta’afili Ioane Sagapolutele presented my statement outlining high priority issues concerning American Samoa including the upcoming report on USDA canned tuna provisions, minimum wage, 30A tax credits, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).”
“On the matter of healthcare, I am appreciative that Secretary Jewell responded to the Territorial Delegates’ September 17, 2013 letter requesting a direct dialogue through which our local government leaders could convey their questions concerning local ACA implementation. I also am appreciative that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius responded to our request and directed senior HHS officials to address the concerns of each Territorial government at the IGIA meeting.”
“Among other benefits, the ACA provided American Samoa a $180 million increase in the Territory’s Medicaid statutory cap from 2011 through 2019, lifting the nine-year cap to $285.5 million, which, in effect, frees up additional funding to improve healthcare at LBJ Hospital.
“However, the local implementation of ACA’s centerpiece — the Health Insurance Exchange – remains a challenge for all five Territorial governments. The Exchange is designed to be run by State or Territorial governments to allow individuals to select from health insurance plans in their area. According to the law, American Samoa can opt in or out of the Exchange. But since there are no private insurers in American Samoa, our local government, in consultation with HHS, must determine if it is possible to establish an alternative Exchange.
“Another option is to take a lump sum payment for our local Medicaid program in lieu of the Exchange which also could be used to improve LBJ healthcare. If further Congressional action is needed, I am here to support Governor Lolo. As each Territorial government moves forward on this issue, I will also continue to work with my fellow Territorial Delegates to advance the goals of healthcare reform in our districts,” Faleomavaega concluded.