By Pamela Gentry, Senior Political Analyst
March 18, 2010 – On Wednesday I was able to follow up on my blog about the impact the Senate version of the health care bill could have on the 4.5 million U.S. citizens in the territories.
During a roundtable at the White House Wednesday with Secretary of Health and Humans Services Kathleen Sebelius I asked her about Del. Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands) concerns. (See my Blog March 17)
Sebelius told me, “I spoke with Del. Christensen two days ago – while I don’t have all the details I know the president’s proposal being finalized deals with her concerns in a very positive and significant way.”
Christensen told Sebelius she was very concerned how the territories would fair if the Senate version of the bill was passed with the current language. “I know she had some very positive sessions with the White House and the speaker’s office and feels the president’s proposal will address” those concerns, Sebelius said.
I also asked the secretary why the territories are often faced with challenges like this when legislation is being created.
“I don’t know why; but historically they just have been from when those programs [Medicare and Medicaid] were originally set up,” she said. “Medicare and Medicaid were treated with different matching rates – why they were framed that way I don’t know,” the secretary said.
It looks like a vote on health care reform will take place on Sunday. Just what will make the final version of the bill is still in negotiations. But Sebelius sounded confident the needs of the territories will be addressed.