Engel Cosponsors Legislation to Improve Health Care in U.S. Territories

Engel Cosponsors Legislation to Improve Health Care in U.S. Territories


New York—Congressman Eliot L. Engel announced today that he is cosponsoring H.R. 1354, the Territories Health Equity Act, legislation that will bring federal Medicare and Medicaid funding for U.S. territories in line with states.  


The U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands have historically received less federal support for their Medicare and Medicaid programs than the 50 states. Consequently, American citizens residing in these communities have faced additional financial and structural barriers in accessing high-quality care.


The Territories Health Equity Act would ensure that territorial health programs receive the same level of federal support as those in the states and the District of Columbia, including open-ended funding for Medicaid, access to Medicaid disproportionate share hospital payments and Medicare Part B.


“Nearly four million Americans call the U.S. territories home and they deserve access to the same high-quality, affordable health care as those living in the states,” Engel said.” While Congress has taken some steps to address the lack of robust federal support for territorial health programs, the reality is that much more needs to be done. I am pleased to cosponsor the Territories Health Equity Act, which will reverse many of these long-standing inequities in territorial health care programs.”


The Affordable Care Act, which Congressman Engel helped author as a Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, provided increased funding for territorial Medicaid programs through September 2019. This funding increase became a lifeline for health care programs in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands following the devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. Recognizing that the territories have not yet fully recovered from the aftermath of these natural disasters, Congressman Engel helped pass H.R. 2157, which provided additional relief funds for the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The Territories Health Equity Act would ensure parity between state and territorial health programs.


Congressman Engel highlighted the inequities faced by territorial health care programs at a June 20, 2019 Energy and Commerce health subcommittee hearing, which can be viewed here