An additional 19,000 Virgin Islands residents are now eligible for healthcare and prescription drug coverage under the federal Medicaid program, following the Mapp/Potter Administration’s success in getting the federal government to approve an increase the federal poverty level in the territory.
At a news conference today, Governor Kenneth E. Mapp explained that this adjustment will amount to an additional $18 million in federal reimbursements for healthcare provided to those among the uninsured population at or below the poverty level, which has been increased from $6,500 to $11,770. The local government will now be reimbursed 55% to 100% of the cost of medical services provided to an adjusted total of 31,000 residents. Unless the requested increase in the official poverty level had been approved, the local government would have remained responsible for 100% of the cost of treating those previously ineligible. The Governor has asked the Legislature to approve the additional $10 million he has requested to meet the local government’s required match. The amount needed to meet the 45% local match requirement, he pointed out, is far less than what it costs to fund 100% of uncompensated care.
In justifying his request for the $10 million appropriation, Governor Mapp stated, “The Medical Assistance Program is geared towards helping the most vulnerable in our community.”
Even those who are able to see a doctor often cannot afford the prescribed medication, he noted. “They get sick, they deteriorate and, ultimately, they do not survive”, the Governor said.
The Governor and the Commissioner of the Department of Human Services, Felicia Blyden, said that DHS personnel will begin identifying eligible clients when they require medical or other federally subsidized services, such as SNAP, so that they can be enrolled in the expanded Medical Assistance Program. This development is expected to greatly improve cash flow at the two local hospitals, which often require cash infusions from the central government because of the amount of uncompensated care provided.