Washington, D.C. - The Center for a New Economy (CNE) sees that Puerto Rico’s authorities have failed to take advantage of the Democratic majority in Congress and the Joe Biden administration to make a strong claim for Medicaid funding to adequately finance its health system.
This is “a once-in-a-generation opportunity,” said Sergio Marxuach, CNE’s Director of Public Policy, stressing the importance of a Democratic majority open to improving the island’s access to social welfare programs, and underscoring that the bipartisan bill introduced in the House is insufficient.
Legislation approved yesterday in the House Energy and Commerce Committee would appropriate nearly $3 billion annually to Puerto Rico in Medicaid funds for five years but is far from answering the call for parity by officials with President Biden´s support.
This appropriation is similar to funding Puerto Rico has received over the past two fiscal years, which include about $200 million if they meet the requirement of providing 70 percent of the money to health care providers.
The measure would also allow for a 6 percent increase in funding while the coronavirus emergency lasts.
But Edna Marín, director of the Medicaid program at the Health Department, said that once the coronavirus emergency is over, the Puerto Rican government may not have enough funds to finance services to between 100,000 and 200,000 participants of the government health plan, known as Vital.
Marxuach said he was surprised by the openness of Pedro Pierluisi’s administration and Resident commissioner in Washington, Jenniffer González, to settle for the allocation proposed by the leadership of the Energy and Commerce Committee. “In their eagerness to promote an ideological agenda, officials have bartered the healthcare needs of low-income Puerto Ricans in favor of political expediency, by accepting the “second best” option once again.” a CNE analysis indicated.