Cabinet meeting: Medicaid, TAOA, shipyard, and insurance money
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Medicaid funding update, assessment of the shipyard, more insurance money following Tropical Storm Gita, and relocation of the Territorial Administration on Aging (TAOA) were among the issues Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga raised at Monday’s cabinet meeting.
LOCAL MEDICAID MATCHING “BIGGEST CHALLENGE”
Coming up with a local match for Medicaid is the “biggest challenge” for the American Samoa Government if federal legislation pending in Congress is enacted into law, said ASG Medicaid Office director Sandra King-Young.
Lolo asked King-Young to provide a brief overall update on the latest development on Medicaid so there is full understanding by the community and cabinet members, as this is a very important matter for American Samoa.
King-Young explained that currently all new services that were implemented in the last few years “are on temporary hold while we are working on returning all of our patients home before Dec. 31st,” which is last day available for American Samoa to use Affordable Care Act money. She said about 60 patients are in New Zealand right now.
Legislation pending before Congress addresses Medicaid and King-Young said she is “very optimistic Congress will act” on this measure “before the end of the year.”
“If that happens then we will resume all of our Medicaid services sometime in the new year,” she said, adding that pending federal legislation would give American Samoa about $84 million a year in Medicaid funding, compared to the current about $12 million level.
“So the biggest challenge we face — if this bill passes — is we have to come up with the local match [which is] about $14 million. The bill will also change our local match requirement — from the current 45% down to 17% — which is very, very good for us,” she said. “We just have to come up with the local match.”
However, “if the bill does not go through, that means the only provider that we will support is LBJ Hospital,” she explained, adding that the public will be informed of any new developments.
SHIPYARD AND GITA INSURANCE MONEY
Lolo said that when he was in Honolulu recently, he held several meetings and one of them was with the company that insures ASG property.
As previously reported by Samoa News, the government’s total claim filed with its insurer — Lloyds of London — following Gita was $15 million. And the government has already received its first payment of $5 million.
Lolo told cabinet members that ASG received its second payment of $3.2 million and this is great news.
In a meeting with insurance company representatives, Lolo said it appears from the discussion that the company thought ASG was planning on filing a lawsuit over Gita claims.
Lolo said he assured the company that ASG has no intention of taking such action, and he is hopeful the insurer will send the final payment soon. The governor requested ASG officials involved in negotiations with the insurance company to work diligently on getting the final payment.
The other meeting Lolo attended was with officials of Honolulu-based shipyard, Marisco Ltd. to discuss an assessment of the ASG owned Ronald Reagan Shipyard at Satala. The slipway at the shipyard was damaged following an incident on Oct. 1st.
Lolo said Marisco representatives will be arriving on island Dec. 16th and will be here until Dec. 19th to conduct a full assessment of the shipyard, which is currently under ASG management but was previously contracted to the private sector.
“I believe there’s a need for a full and complete assessment of the shipyard to see where it stands now so there’s solid plans going forward,” Lolo told Samoa News prior to the cabinet meeting.
According to the governor, some problems and issues were discovered during a recent visit and assessment of the main center of the TAOA office in Pago Pago. He said it’s not in good condition and plans are underway to relocate TAOA to ASG land next to the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) in Tafuna.
ASG is working on building a facility on this land (where impounded vehicles are stored) and TAOA is expected to relocate there by the end of February 2020.