Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced had anticipated that the Puerto Rican government would run out of Medicaid funds in February. (GFR Media)

President Donald Trump signed Friday night the budget bill that includes the $5,742 billion in Medicaid funds for Puerto Rico over the next two fiscal years and that, along with other measures, prevents a partial federal government shutdown right on Christmas.

Although the funds initially negotiated in Congress were cut by half, the allocation for fiscal years 2020 and 2021 will represent, on average, the highest annual Medicaid funding for the island.

The measure increases the Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage (FMAP) from 55 to 76 percent and directly allocates $ 2,623 billion during federal fiscal year 2020 -which began in October- and $ 2,719 billion for 2021.

The new bill also allows the Puerto Rican government to receive an additional $ 200 million package each of the two years if it commits at least 70 percent of Medicaid funds to pay for outpatient health care providers.

After last summer’s corruption scandals involving the Health Insurance Administration (PRHIA), legislation requires to reform the hiring process for the Puerto Rico government’s health plan, which will depend -now more than ever- on Medicaid funds.

In order to avoid losing up to 2.5 percent of the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP), the government has 12 months to file a plan to reform the hiring process for the health plan; appoint an official to ensure the integrity of the program in six months, and in an 18-month period and in coordination with the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), comply with the regulations seeking to prevent errors in payments and establish quality controls on program eligibility.

Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced had anticipated that the Puerto Rican government would run out of Medicaid funds in February.

For Washington Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González, the $5.7 billion package over two years represents, on average, “the largest allocation of Medicaid funds” for the island and removes concerns “over health funds over the next few years."


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