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Amendment allows Medicaid coverage for all FAS citizens

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GUAM Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo on Wednesday issued a statement on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s vote to include Amendment No. 15 in S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013.

The amendment was offered by Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and would make Compacts of Free Association migrants eligible for Medicaid outside of Guam’s Medicaid cap. The bill still must be considered by the full Senate. The amendment is similar to H.R. 912 which was introduced by Rep. Colleen Hanabusa of Hawaii and of which Bordallo is an original co-sponsor. It is similar to legislation that Bordallo has sponsored in the past.

Bordallo joined her colleagues on the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus in sending a joint letter in support of the amendment to Chairman Patrick Leahy and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley of the judiciary committee. The efforts of CAPAC and Bordallo, the vice chairwoman of CAPAC, helped to ensure the amendment was adopted by voice vote and was generally supported on a bipartisan basis.

Longstanding issue

“I thank Sen. Hirono for offering this amendment and for working to address and fix this longstanding issue for our states and territories,” Bordallo said. “State and local governments continue to bear much of the financial burden of providing social services to COFA migrants as a result of the compacts. Sen. Hirono’s amendment restores Medicaid eligibility for these migrants and will allow the federal government to pay a percentage of the healthcare costs for eligible migrants, many of whom are currently covered by our local [Medically Indigent Program]. Should Congress maintain this provision and pass this comprehensive immigration bill, it will help to mitigate one of the most significant impacts of the Compacts of Free Association.

“I also want to thank my colleagues in CAPAC for their support of this amendment. This is a positive step forward in addressing Compact-impact issues, especially given current budget constraints. I will continue working with them to maintain this provision and push for the passage of comprehensive immigration reform. I remain committed to working with Gov. (Eddie) Calvo and the Legislature to look at other legislative measures to address and mitigate the financial burden from the Compacts.”

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