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American Medical Association Agrees With Mapp: ‘Adequately Fund Medicaid’ Programs In The Territories So Hospitals Can Support Themselves

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HONOLULU — It has been nearly two months since Hurricanes Irma and Maria, but the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico continue to struggle to recover.

At the 2017 AMA Interim Meeting in Hawaii, the House of Delegates (HOD) directed the AMA to urge the Congress to pass legislation needed to ensure funding for Medicaid programs as the islands continue to recover.

Most people living in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico still lack power. They also lack sufficient health care resources to facilitate their complete recovery from the devastation of Hurricanes Maria and Irma. Physicians and other health professionals are struggling to maintain operations to provide appropriate medical care for the islands’ residents.

To help with disaster relief, the HOD directed the AMA to urge Congress to quickly pass legislation to “adequately fund” the islands’ Medicaid programs.

To help restore access to health care services, the AMA also will encourage the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to implement temporary emergency regulatory Medicare and Medicaid funding waivers.

“Increased federal funding for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands’ Medicaid programs would provide support for the medical and public health needs of their residents and would help provide needed care and restore access to health care services,” said Russell W.H. Kridel, MD, a member of the AMA Board of Trustees.

Reference-committee testimony was strongly supportive of HOD actions.

Many physician practices and health care facilities in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are still unable to access electricity and clean water. They also face shortages of critical and life-saving medicines, as well as medical devices. Federal funding for Medicaid programs in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands is vital for the local governments. It will help to prevent the worsening of medical and public health needs of residents.

The AMA Foundation’s Physician Disaster Recovery Fund was created to directly support physicians that are affected by natural disasters such as Hurricane Maria, Irma and Harvey.

The AMA Foundation enables the entirety of a donor’s gift to go directly to help physicians feeling the impact of Irma and Maria. Simply select a designation such as “physicians affected by Hurricane Maria” and contributions will be used to re-esta​blish the delivery of patient care in physician practices in federally designated disaster areas damaged by these disasters.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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