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DOH FQHC Community Health Centers become Medicaid Provider

Source: Media release, Office of the Governor

Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga in a major milestone for American Samoa announces a key achievement for his administration — American Samoa has obtained approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), to enable the DOH Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) and its community health centers to be a Medicaid provider.

This means that the FQHC located in Tafuna and its community centers in Leone, Amouli, Ta'u and Ofu will be eligible for reimbursement from Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funds.

The Lolo Administration has been working diligently for more than 2 years with the CMS Regional Office in San Francisco to amend American Samoa's Medicaid State Plan to allow the DOH FQHC to be a Medicaid provider. The amendment required that the American Samoa Medicaid office negotiate and justify a new payment method for the FQHC in order to submit claims to its office. Although the DOH community health centers were eligible for Medicaid funds when it was designated an FQHC in 2003, this is the first time that an administration has succeeded in devising a new payment method for the FQHC that was acceptable to CMS.

Governor Lolo stated, "This milestone in our Medicaid program is part of our effort to improve our health care system into the future. Our community health centers located in rural areas are at the frontline of providing outpatient primary care services and preventive chronic care management for our people. Now, we can use our existing local budget for the DOH to help draw down federal Medicaid dollars to hopefully hire more doctors and nurses and improve the facilities at our CHC's. The FQHC CHC's is an important part of our health care system and I want to thank CMS for expediting approval of this state planning amendment."