27 Jul 2017

Underspend of Medicaid in American Samoa challenged

10:10 pm on 27 July 2017

Three US territory lawmakers say better handling of American Samoa's medicaid funding is needed by both local and federal governments.

The lawmakers, including Congresswoman Aumua Amata Radewagen, want to know why American Samoa has failed to spend more than US$150-million in Medicaid.

Incumbent Congresswoman Aumua Amata is seeking a second term.

Incumbent Congresswoman Aumua Amata is seeking a second term. Photo: Supplied/United States Congress

That money expires in 2019 if not spent.

Aumua, Northern Marianas representative Greg Kilili Sablan and Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jennifer Gonzalez, challenged American Samoa's Medicaid Chief Sandra Young for an explanation at a US House hearing.

Aumua said the issue was about the health of her people.

"I have tears in my eyes when I go in that hospital. People cannot get the services they need."

"They have to struggle to find extra money that they don't have to try to go up to Honolulu. This has been going on for years," she said.

Sandra Young criticised Aumua recently for not fighting hard enough to get more Medicaid funding for American Samoa, a claim she has strongly denied.

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