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COVID Task Force report cites local Medicaid office as providing “critical support” during pandemic


Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The federally funded Medicaid program covered more than $4.7 million in expenditures for American Samoa during the COVID-19 pandemic, with some $3 million of allowable costs payable to ASG’s Health Department, according to the 2022 COVID-19 Task Force Operations financial report.

The report pointed out that the American Samoa Medicaid State Agency — commonly referred to as ASG Medicaid Office — provided “critical support” during the pandemic.

Examples cited in the report include charter flight operations, TALOFAPass platform data support across agencies, and expansion of benefits to help fund other agency tasks in the delivery of their COVID-19 response services.

Medicaid under a Medicaid Disaster Recovery State Planning Amendment, received approval from the U.S Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to extend American Samoa Medicaid coverage to the State of Hawaii, to cover the costs of COVID-19 testing for all eligible residents of American Samoa traveling to American Samoa.

It also extended coverage for dialysis patients in quarantine — during the Hawaii pre-travel quarantine and in American Samoa — and finally, increased the “encounter rate” from $150 to $200 for the Department of Health for all COVID-19 related medical encounters.

In addition, the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency declarations resulted in an increase in the Federal Matching Assistance Percentage (FMAP) from 83% to 89.2%, “applied uniquely” to American Samoa under a presumptive eligible population formula.

Furthermore, a total of more than $3.8 million was provided to the Department of Health for all COVID-19 related expenses allowable under Medicaid.

Besides the DoH allowable expenses, other Medicaid expenditures listed in the report includes $330,388 for COVID-19 testing in Hawaii; $335,382 for transportation; personnel at $192,250; and $15,512 paid for “media” expenses.