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Florida senator files bill to help Puerto Rico seniors

By on April 4, 2017

SAN JUAN – U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) filed legislation Tuesday to help an estimated 400,000 low-income seniors living in Puerto Rico afford the cost of their prescription drugs.

The measure would make Puerto Rico’s low-income seniors eligible for the Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy program, which already provides federal subsidies to help seniors afford the cost of their prescription drugs in the mainland U.S.

“This is inherently unfair,” Nelson says in a statement published on his Senate website. “This bill will help seniors living in Puerto better afford the cost of their prescription drugs by simply putting them on the same footing as seniors living in the states.”

Florida has some one million Puerto Ricans, many of whom have family living on the island, which is quickly approaching the so-called healthcare cliff, when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, funds run out amid a decade-long fiscal crisis.

“Instead of making Puerto Rico’s seniors eligible for the existing program, Congress set up a smaller subsidy program in 2003 to help the island’s low-income seniors afford the cost of their drugs. That program, however, requires the Puerto Rican government to match nearly half the cost of any subsidies it provides. As the island continues to struggle financially, the Puerto Rican government has been unable to afford the cost of those subsidies, leaving many of the island’s seniors without much-needed financial assistance to help them afford the cost of their drugs,” the senator’s statement reads.

Nelson’s measure to expand the program will now head to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration.

The text of Nelson’s legislation is available here.

The Senate Commerce Committee's ranking member Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and the committee Chairman Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., left, take break on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, during a brief recess at the committee's confirmation hearing for Commerce Secretary-designate Wilbur Ross. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Sen. Bill Nelson (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

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