American Samoa

American Samoa forced to hire nurses off island.

The chief executive Taufetee John Faumuina said the number of local nurses cannot meet the growing numbers of ill people in the territory.

He said the hospital won’t function without nurses and thanked all those in the nursing profession for their service.

Mr Taufetee said the deteriorating health of the local population has made him lean on his counterpart, the Director of Health to step up preventive health care.

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American Samoa · Puerto Rico · Uncategorized · Virgin Islands

The American Health Care Act-Blog

I’ve been active on social media, and many are asking how does AHCA affect the US territories. So far, I just found a “summary” that was published by The Henry J. Kaiser Family. I will be digging more to find the text so I can hopefully make it easier to understand. So far, I don’t see anything on how this will work in US territories, There are no specificity to it in regards to US territories. But it already looks similar to what the ACA amendment that was in place. For those who don’t know I will try to clear this up:

Medicaid Overview:

The Medicaid program in American Samoa differs from Medicaid programs operating in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Some of the key differences are:

  • American Samoa became a territory in 1900 and its Medicaid program was established in 1983. It is a 100% fee-for-service delivery system with one hospital servicing the territory. There are no deductibles or co-payments under the American Samoa Medicaid program however there are some fees charged by the hospital located in American Samoa. The territory does not administer a Medicare Part D Plan, instead the Medicaid program receives an additional grant through the Enhanced Allotment Plan (EAP) which must be utilized solely for the distribution of Part D medications to dual-eligibles.
  • American Samoa operates its Medicaid program under a broad waiver granted under the authority of Section 1902(j) of the Social Security Act.  This provision allows the Secretary to waive or modify any requirement of Title XIX, in regards to American Samoa’s Medicaid program, with the exception of three: the territory must adhere to the cap set under Section 1108 of the Act; the territory must adhere to the statutory Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP); Federal medical assistance payments may only be made for amounts expended for care and services described in a numbered paragraph of section 1905(a).
  • Through Section 1108 of the Social Security Act (SSA), each territory is provided base funding to serve their Medicaid populations. For the period of July 1, 2011 through September 30, 2019, Section 2005 of the Affordable Care Act provided an additional $181,307,628 in Medicaid funding to American Samoa.
  • Unlike the 50 states and the District of Columbia, where the federal government will match all Medicaid expenditures at the appropriate federal matching assistance percentage (FMAP) rate for that state, in American Samoa, the FMAP is applied until the Medicaid ceiling funds and the Affordable Care Act available funds are exhausted. The statutory FMAP local matching rate increased from 50%/ 50% to 55% federal /45% local, effective July 1, 2011. From January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2015 there is a temporary 2.2% FMAP increase for all Medicaid enrollees, bringing American Samoa’s FMAP to 57.2%.

Medicaid-Marketplace Overview

American Samoa was awarded $16,510,330 million for its Medicaid program in lieu of establishing a health marketplace. American Samoa must exhaust its Affordable Care Act (Section 2005) allotment prior to using these funds.

Medicaid and CHIP Standard Monthly Income Eligibility Levels

Eligibility in American Samoa differs from eligibility in the states. American Samoa does not have a TANF or SSI program and does not determine eligibility on an individual basis. Rather, the territory uses a system of presumed eligibility. Each year the percentage of the population below 200% of the poverty level is estimated and, after CMS approval of the estimate, CMS pays expenditures for Medicaid based on that percentage.

Monthly Medicaid and CHIP Enrollment Data

As of January 2015, 40,515 people are enrolled in the Medicaid and CHIP program in American Samoa.

Medicaid and CHIP Applications

  • Currently, American Samoa has no online Medicaid/CHIP application.

Medicaid and CHIP State Plan Amendments

The state Medicaid and CHIP plans spell out how each state has chosen to design its program within the broad requirements for federal funding. As always, states amend their Medicaid and CHIP state plans in order to inform CMS of programmatic and financing changes and to secure legal authority for those changes. The Affordable Care Act included many new opportunities for states to augment and improve their Medicaid and CHIP programs. As a result there has been a great deal of state plan amendment activity over the past several years in the areas of eligibility, benefits design and financing, as well as new approaches to providing health homes, long-term services and supports, and enrollment strategies like hospital presumptive eligibility. See below for a state-specific list of approved Medicaid and CHIP SPAs.

The AHCA states that there will be an allotment. The Summary specifically states that : “Convert Medicaid funding to a per capita allotment and limit growth..”

I don’t know who this will affect Guam, the Mariana Islands, Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico. I have had more luck being able to dig more information of the clinics in American Samoa and the services provided. I’ve read about American Samoa offering a women’s clinic with free services ( pap smear, HPV test, etc. ) I don’t know if the AHCA will allow funding for this clinic to continue to offer these services for free.

I will be taking the new few days, or maybe all this week to read through the text of the AHCA.

Here are the links if you are interested to dig deeper!

AHCA Summary by Kaiser Family

Congress Text- AHCA

American Samoa

Doctor Shortage Fears in American Samoa

Medical sector workers in American Samoa says there is an urgent life and death situation with the hospital relying on a single paediatrician.


Two doctors from the Department of Health have been sent to help out at the Pediatric Department of the LBJ Hospital, after the sudden death of long serving paediatrician, Dr Tagilima Iatala, last week.

A replacement is due on island next week.

The chief medical officer at the LBJ, Iotamo Salepaga, said the two public health doctors would mean they could manage until then.

But some medical staff said the situation was more serious than what the LBJ management is making it out to be.

They pointed out that the work load for the remaining pediatrician was too much and had been for a long time.

They said it had taken the hospital more than a year to recruit new pediatricians and one additional doctor was not enough.

They said some inpatients had conditions where the pediatricians had to keep an almost 24-hour watch because of seizures and other complications.

The medical staffers said this was an urgent life-and-death situation and the leaders needed to come and see for themselves and not take the management’s word for it.

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