Medicaid director says focus should be on Medicaid not next election

Director of the American Samoa Medicaid Office, Tofoitaufa Sandra King Young denies allegations that she is after Congresswoman Aumua Amata’s seat and says the ‘rumor’ has become a distraction, veering the focus away from more critical issues like Medicaid.

In response to Samoa News inquiries over the weekend, Tofoitaufa said, “I have no plans to run against Amata at the next election. I’m very dis­appointed that this rumor seems to be distracting us from the real issue, which is the need for our territory to get help to extend the timeline for the territory to expend its share of the ACA Medicaid funds. We need to keep focus on Medicaid.”

In her statement before a congressional panel last month, Tofoitaufa accused Amata of throwing the territory “under the bus.” The hearing in Washington DC revolved around the conditions at the LBJ Medical Center.

The issue between Amata’s office and Tofoitaufa has to do with ASG’s failure to spend down an estimated $150 million in remaining ACA or ObamaCare Medicaid.

Amata supporters claim that Tofoitaufa didn’t notify the Congresswoman about the Medicaid underspending problem until earlier this year and making an issue of it now leads some to speculate that Tofoitaufa’s motives are political.

“I am committed to helping our Representa­tive to Congress better understand the issues with our Medicaid program because they are very unique to our territory,” Tofoitaufa told Samoa News yesterday. “But since February 2015 during a courtesy visit to her office with the Governor, when I briefed her legislative staff on our request for action on the Medicaid ACA deadline, so far, I have only been able to meet with her legislative staff to brief them and I have no control over that. I just want us to work together to get this done for our territory.”

According to Tofoitaufa, the American Samoa Government is limited by facilities, demand, and matching requirements in what it can spend, with regards to Medicaid.

When asked if she has her eyes set on Amata’s seat in Congress, Tofoitaufa said no but added, “If I should change my mind and run for Congress, that is my right as it is anyone else’s. My focus is to opera­tionalize the Medicaid program per the Governor’s vision and although I am very proud that our territory is realizing some of those achievements like the FQHC and OIMR eligibility, much work still needs to be done.

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