WASHINGTON, DC—Virgin Islands Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett issued the following statement in response to the release of an Omnibus Spending Bill to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year:
"This spending agreement avoids another disruptive government shutdown and illustrate Democrats’ continued commitment to hardworking American families. The bill continues funding for critical health research, for programs that ensure women's’ right to reproductive health and to restoring year-round Pell Grants for low-income students, as well as others."
Highlighting Concern around $295 Million to Puerto Rico
"Because of Puerto Rico's massive debt problem, it has spent its initial supplemental Medicaid funding under the Affordable Care Act at a faster rate than the other territories. While the other territories will face the same problem-- due to the disparities in funding compared to States-- when they reach the Medicaid "fiscal cliff" in September of 2019, This legislation only allocates Puerto Rico enough funds to be able to operate their Medicaid program until that date.
"I understand the concern the money used comes out of supplemental Medicaid funding for the smaller territories, whose local governments have not spent the money at the same rate as Puerto Rico. But it is important to note the U.S. Virgin Islands—which elected not to implement an exchange in 2013—will likely not use any additional funding due to the high federal match rate. This disparity in federal funding for healthcare has placed an unfair financial burden on the U.S. Virgin Islands and other territories. I am currently in the process of introducing legislation designed to give U.S. territories equal treatment under Medicaid."