For U.S. Senate Democratic minority leader, Charles Schumer (New York), the White House has reconfirmed President Donald Trump’s "personal vendetta" against Puerto Rico, in acknowledging that he demanded to cut half the Medicaid funds package for the island discussed in Congress.
"It is shameful that President Trump rejected a proposal that included four years of Medicaid funding for our fellow U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico, which has strong support both in the House and the Senate," said Senator Schumer.
At a time when the Senate and the U.S. House leaderships were promoting legislation that would allocate nearly $ 12 billion in Medicaid funds to Puerto Rico –with strict oversight measures-, President Trump, according to the White House, demanded to reduce those funds by half.
The White House agreement with the congressional leadership on the spending bill, including Medicaid funds, will allow Puerto Rico to receive up to $ 5,742 billion during fiscal years 2020 and 2021, with certain controls and requirements.
Both Commissioner Jenniffer González and Governor Wanda Vázquez virtually guaranteed White House support for a $ 12 billion allocation.
Commissioner Gonzalez said that the cut proposed by the congressional leadership represents an effort to harmonize the period and funding of temporary budget legislation initiatives that include Medicaid funds.
But the White House clearly expressed its reasons for opposing a four-year agreement.
A spokesperson for the White House Office Office of Management and Budget –the agency that stopped emergency relief funds after Hurricane María- described the funding deal for the island –reducing Medicaid funds from about $12 billion to $5.7 billion- as a "win for President Trump and the American people."
"This administration remains committed to properly prioritizing U.S. taxpayer dollars," said Chase Jennings, a spokesperson for the White House Office of Management and Budget to a request of information from El Nuevo Día. "With the historical waste we have faced in Puerto Rico, additional funding was not needed or fiscally responsible," he added.
Despite President Trump’s "disdain," Schumer said Democrats pressed for the "solid increase in Medicaid funding" for the island that has been achieved.
“I intend to return to this vital issue in 2020 and I will do everything in my power to build on this multi-year agreement,” he said adding the goal is to extend funding over the years f to fully address the major “inequities that the Puerto Rican health care system faces.” “I will not allow President Trump's hateful vendetta against Puerto Rico to stand in the way of children and families receiving the medical care they deserve,” Schumer added.
Meanwhile, Commissioner González said the $ 5.7 billion is the highest allocation the island has received in Medicaid funds.
“You don’t play or politicize with the health of the people. Some want to put at risk the access to health of 1.1 million Puerto Ricans in the reform program because due personal ambitions and because they want to attack me,” González said, without mentioning the White House’s criticisms of the Puerto Rican government.
The House passed the legislation – part of a spending agreement that, among other things, would prevent a partial federal government shutdown this weekend – Tuesday and the Senate must confirm it today.