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Medicaid in the Territories: Program Features, Challenges, and Changes

By admin | January 28, 2019

Executive Summary

Individuals born in the U.S. territories are U.S. citizens or nationals, but the territories differ from the states on key demographic, economic, and health status indicators. Most of the territories have a larger share of people living in poverty and longstanding fiscal challenges. Recent hurricanes, typhoons, and the North Korean missile crisis exacerbated pre-existing fiscal issues by damaging infrastructure and limiting tourism. In addition, a larger share of residents in the territories report that they are in fair or poor health than in the states. However, Medicaid, the program that serves low-income and vulnerable individuals, operates differently in the territories. The most fundamental difference is that federal funding for Medicaid in the territories is subject to a statutory cap and a fixed federal matching rate, unlike in the states, where federal Medicaid funding is not capped, and the federal share varies based on states’ per capita income. This brief draws on a survey of and interviews with territory Medicaid officials, as well as other research, to examine key issues and trends in their Medicaid programs.1 Key findings include the following:




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