Senators OK transfer of V.I.'s Medicaid program to Human Services
Published: September 20, 2012
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ST. THOMAS - At a legislative session Tuesday, senators approved transferring the territory's Medicaid program from the V.I. Health Department to the V.I. Human Services Department.
The proposal had been sent to the Senate by Gov. John deJongh Jr. along with the Fiscal Year 2013 budget.
In his trasmittal letter to Senate President Ronald Russell, deJongh said the transfer of the Medical Assistance Program from the Health Department to Human Services will enable the government to improve service to clients who are frequently beneficiaries of more than one social service programs.
The change will also allow the V.I. government to take advantage of more than $300 million in federal funding available to the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The bill passed Tuesday transfers the Bureau of Health Insurance and Medical Assistance Program - the territory's Medicaid program - from Health to Human Services.
Each agency's FY 2013 budget already reflects the change, which is to go into effect at the start of the fiscal year - Oct. 1.
The local program funding totals $6,449,570.
At his agency's budget hearing in August, Human Services Commissioner Christopher Finch said moving the Medical Assistance Program to the Human Services Department is "the most significant change" - one that would "create a one-stop shop for financial aid, increasing customer service, achieving savings through operational efficiency and ultimately allowing several social service programs to benefit from provisions of the Affordable Care Act."
According to the legislation, employees of the Medical Assistance Program will be transferred as well, keeping all rights and benefits under the territory's personnel system or applicable bargaining agreement.
Everything - from contracts to lawsuits to office furniture - will transfer over to Human Services without any impact, the bill states.
- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.