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Mapp: “In the Virgin Islands, we’ve long had universal healthcare”

St. Thomas — Five months ago, Governor Kenneth Mapp sat down for an interview with national publication The Atlantic to discuss healthcare in U.S. Territories, the governor also made false claims about access to universal healthcare in the Virgin Islands. Governor Mapp discussed at length the territory’s healthcare system and its relationship with the United States.

Interviewer Vann R. Newkirk II asked Mapp, “What’s the structure of healthcare in the territory?” To which the governor replied, “In the Virgin Islands, we’ve long had universal health-care.”

The fully transcribed interview by Vann R. Newkirk II can be found here.


Context

Universal care, usually refers to a health care system that provides healthcare and financial protection to all citizens of a particular country. Universal health coverage does not exist anywhere in the 50 states or territories.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes universal health coverage as a system or health care program where all people and communities can use the promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need, of sufficient quality to be effective, while also ensuring that the use of these services does not expose the user to financial hardship.

Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett criticized Governor Mapp last year for not adequately coordinating with here office to expedite and maximize disaster assistance and critical medical programs after two Cat. 5 Hurricanes ravaged the Territory.

The Mapp Administration posted the original interview on Government Houses’ official Facebook Page and sparked backlash on the social network — with many Virgin Islanders expressing disappointment in the governor’s remarks to The Atlantic in the comments.

Governor Mapp responded to State of the Territory’s coverage of the interview from his personal Facebook to further elaborate on his comments. The Governor’s unfiltered response can be seen below:


GERS

Several issues have emerged since the Governor delivered his fourth State of the Territory Address on January 22th. In a press release yesterday, GERS criticized the governor for misleading the public when talking about the government’s retirement system.

In an unusually blistering statement from GERS Administrator Austin L. Nibbs, he expressed disappointment in the Governor’s address — explaining that Mapp, “did not provide specific solutions and recommendations to resolving the $1.6 billion underfunding of the actuarially determined employer contributions that has occurred over the past 27 of the 58 years the GERS has existed.”

In a surprisingly direct statement, Nibbs set the record straight on a few things Governor Mapp mentioned in his address to the Territory.

GERS’ press release noted that in his 2017 State of the Territory address, the Governor stated that he would send to the Legislature a list of reforms that were needed for the GERS. To date, no listing was shared with the GERS or sent to the Legislature.


Sea View

The backlash from GERS and the VI Governments non-payment to St. Thomas Healthcare (formerly Sea View Nursing and Rehabilitation) have shattered his words that, “The State of the Territory is good.”

It was revealed on January 23rd that the Government of the Virgin Islands had not funded St. Thomas Healthcare since August of 2017. After months of gaps in funding, missed payrolls, and food shortages, the facility felt that they had a responsibility to turn over 15 adolescents to the Department of Human Services.

Sea View facility after Irma and Maria — Source: State of the Territory

The children housed at the facility have special needs and need padded rooms from time to time to prevent them from harming themselves or others. The department has not yet released any official statement on what will happen to them if the facility is not funded in the coming weeks.

State of the Territory’s article titled, “VI Government has Withheld Funds from Sea View Since August.”

A source familiar with the operations of the facility confirmed that the adolescents were dropped off around noon today as conditions continued to deteriorate after the storms.

The staff at St. Thomas Healthcare decided to hand the adolescents over to the Department of Human Services with concerns of continuously deteriorating conditions, also noting that operations are becoming increasingly restrictive with the VI Government failing to make payments since last August.

St. Thomas Healthcare was also denied Federal aid by FEMA. The agency informed the facility that they were denied because they are considered a private, for profit facility and are not eligible to receive disaster assistance.

The adolescents were handed over to their social workers at the department. From there, their case workers began the process of contacting their parents and legal guardians.

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