U.S. House passed Build Back Better plan would bring over $1 Billion in local funding
Washington, D.C. — Congresswoman Uifa’atali Amata is updating the continued progress of local hospital infrastructure, Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) funds, which passed the House on Friday as part of the major budget reconciliation bill, titled the Build Back Better (BBB) Act.
The bill now goes to the Senate, which is working on a smaller version shaped by key moderates. Currently, American Samoa’s highest priorities within the legislation are preserved.
“Since I first was sent to Congress I’ve made finding a way forward on hospital funding one major priority, and stabilizing and boosting our Medicaid support another,” Amata said. “In these, we are being treated fairly with the states with about $150 million in hospital funding over ten years, and ten years locked in for Medicaid at no lower than an 83 percent federal match, plus plenty of spending space as it is boosted the yearly cap again to $90 million.”
“In a historic first, Congress would expand Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to thousands of low-income senior citizens and disabled citizens in American Samoa and the other territories, providing them with monthly checks to help make ends meet,” Amata continued. “These are important steps to equality with the states in key areas that provide help to our people. That’s been my focus, how it affects American Samoa and equal treatment in any final legislative outcome, and I took part in this aspect through Committee work on these key funding items.”
An additional $550 per student/pell grant recipient is included for the territories which will provided an extra $500,000 in Pell grant money for the nearly 900 Pell grant student recipients in American Samoa.
For families, the $300 per month child care tax credit will be extended as well.
Notably, the key provision for the territories is intact with nearly $1 billion ($993 million) for the Department of Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs to invest in hospital infrastructure in four smaller U.S. territories, of which (taking into account population and need factors), American Samoa’s portion is estimated around $150 million over ten years.
The national debate in Washington will now continue in the Senate, where we will continue to work with key committees and senators. They are expected to pass a revised version of the bill and send back to the House for final passage in the coming weeks.
“We are well positioned to maintain this historic funding, but must remain vigilant to insure no changes are made by the Senate that reduce these much needed benefits to American Samoa,” she concluded.