Senatorial legislation funds federal mandates for U.S. VI, Puerto Rico
Hagåtña — Congresswoman Bordallo must do everything she can to add Guam to proposed legislation that could finally fully fund the Earned Income Tax Credit and address other federal program shortfalls.
“I urge you to please revitalize efforts to have Guam reimbursed for EITC by including all territories in S.2165,” Governor Calvo noted in a letter to the Congresswoman.
Senator Bernie Sanders introduced S.2165 — the Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands Equitable Rebuild Act of 2017 — in November. If passed into federal law, it would appropriate money to the two U.S. territories for disaster recovery, eliminate the Medicaid cap, rebase Medicare targets for territories’ hospitals based on a 12-month cost reporting for FY2015; and reimburse them for EITC payouts to the working poor.
The current legislation opens a door for Congress to address injustices to Guam if the island is added to the bill and it becomes law.
“In light of federal policies that have strangled Guam’s economy, such as H2B visa denials, or that have jeopardized GovGuam’s ability to provide essential services to ALL residents — from the lack of promised appropriate reimbursement in Compact impact to failing to fund EITC,” Governor Calvo states, “it is imperative that the Congresswoman, our voice to Congress, add Guam to S.2165 and then urge her peers in Washington D.C. to help all of the territories by passing the bill.”
Guam residents who qualify for EITC are paid – to the tune of $60 million a year or about $350 million in the last seven years — all out of local coffers. For residents living in U.S. states, the federal government funds EITC payments. Previous legislation was introduced in 2015 to reimburse all territories for EITC. That bill died in Congress.
Guam Memorial Hospital and the administration have been able to get some reimbursement of Medicare for specific years. However, it is a long and lengthy process just to get reimbursed for one year. The goal has always been to update the rebasing levels, which means Guam would be reimbursed at current rates instead of 1997 rates.
Congress has not lived up to its promise to reimburse states and territories that host FAS migrants. In 2017 alone, GovGuam incurred $147.3 million to provide educational and social services to citizens from the Freely Associated States who now live in Guam. The cumulative from 2004 to 2017, comes up to a whopping $1.2 billion.