The possibility that the U.S. Congress continues to fund the Government Health Plan (GHP), now known as Vital, does not seem a realistic scenario for Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced.
However, the Governor said her administration expects to reach a federal contribution that fluctuates between 55 and 80 percent of the total program spending. Lower percentages, within that range, would represent serious financial problems for the government.
"Certainly, if we go back to a 55 percent (authorization), it would be devastating for us," Vázquez Garced said in an interview with El Nuevo Día.
According to the governor, the U.S. House has been more receptive to approve the necessary levels of funding for the Vital program than the U.S. Senate, which has more questions about allocating funds for Puerto Rico.
“We are working for equal treatment. We know that we will not be able to reach 100 percent federal funding or even 80 percent like other states do, but we hope to increase the 55 percent that has been discussed,” the governor said. The federal funding to the Vital program comes mainly from the federal Medicaid program.
Vázquez Garced also said that if the federal government doesn’t accept the Puerto Rican claim, they would have to start conversations with the Oversight Board in order to access funds from the government’s budget reserve, which could represent temporary relief to the program until they identified new sources of funding.
After Hurricane María hit the island in 2017, the federal government began to temporarily finance 100 percent of the Vital program in Puerto Rico. But this expires on November 21, when the level of the U.S. funding to the Vital program is expected to change.
Given this scenario, Puerto Rico health industry leaders, along with several government officials, seek to influence decision-making in Congress to ensure more funds for the Puerto Rican program.