Assistant Secretary Domenech Applauds Congress and President Trump for the 2019 Disaster Relief Act

Includes Critical Disaster and Medicaid Support for the U.S. Territories

Last edited 11/30/2020
Contact Information

Tanya Harris Joshua 202-208-6008

WASHINGTON – Doug Domenech, U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, this week applauded President Donald J. Trump for signing H.R. 2157, the “Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019”, now U.S. Public Law 116-20.   

“I applaud the President for his support of the territories,” said Assistant Secretary Domenech. “All of the territories are in desperate need of this disaster assistance and the additional Medicaid funding,” Domenech concluded. 

The new law provides significant disaster and emergency support directly to the territories as follows:

  • The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) is eligible for $25.2 million for disaster nutrition assistance through September 30, 2020, to help address needs in response to the presidentially declared major disasters and emergencies, including needs following Typhoon Yutu.
  • Similarly, American Samoa is eligible to receive an additional $18 million in disaster nutrition assistance as made available under Section 18 of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008.

More disaster assistance is available through several federal agencies as listed below:

  • The Office of Insular Affairs will receive will receive $2 million in supplemental funding to be used for financial management technical assistance related to the impacts of Typhoon Yutu in the CNMI.
  • The National Park Service Historic Preservation Fund will receive $50 million to fund the repair of historic sites and properties in areas across the nation that received a major disaster declaration, for which the CNMI will be eligible due to Typhoon Yutu.
  • The Department of Justice Federal Prison System will receive $28.4 million for buildings and facilities related to the consequences of Hurricanes Florence and Michael, including Typhoon Yutu.
  • Federal offices and agencies, such as the Economic Development Administration, the Veterans Health Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Coast Guard, and the Government Accountability Office, have also received funding to support additional disaster assistance across the nation, and for which the territories are also eligible.

The Disaster Relief Act of 2019 also includes critical assistance for Medicaid funding related to health services in the territories as listed below:

  • The federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) rate is to be increased to 100 percent for the period beginning January 1, 2019 and ending September 30, 2019, for American Samoa, Guam, the CNMI, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The FMAP rate in the territories is otherwise statutorily set at 55 percent. This support essentially provides a waiver of the local matching requirement through the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2019, beginning in January.
  • In connection with this support, the law requires each territory to submit a plan to the federal government by September 30, 2019, outlining the steps they shall take to collect and report reliable data to the Transformed Medicaid Statistical Information System.
  • Finally, the CNMI will receive an additional $36 million in Medicaid funds, also referred to as the Section 1108 allotment of the Social Security Act. This is the maximum amount of funding the CNMI may receive from the federal government in Medicaid allotments through the remainder of FY 2019. The FMAP match waiver is also applicable to this funding through the remainder of FY 2019.

The full text for U.S. Public Law 116-20, Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act for 2019, can be found here.

The Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Insular and International Affairs, and the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) carry out the Secretary’s responsibilities for the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Additionally, OIA administers and oversees Federal assistance under the Compacts of Free Association to the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. OIA supports the Secretary's mission of Fulfilling Trust and Insular Responsibilities through balancing efforts and limited resources towards stronger economic and health capacities, and fiscal accountability in the U.S. insular areas.


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