Health secretary rejects consolidation of hospitals proposed in draft fiscal plan
SAN JUAN – Health Secretary Ana Ríus expressed Tuesday her disagreement with a proposal in Gov. Alejandro García Padilla’s draft fiscal plan to consolidate state-run hospitals into a single entity.
Regarding the measure, which seeks to merge the Puerto Rico Medical Services Administration (ASEM by its Spanish acronym) with other island hospitals, Ríus said in a WKAQ 580 radio interview that the organizational structure of the Medical Center “should be evaluated, but not shrunk.”
The “Medical Center itself has to be rethought but not made smaller. We are the top health response throughout Puerto Rico in supra-tertiary levels, and are the training center for 33 residency programs,” the official said.
The proposed measure is part of the draft fiscal plan the García Padilla presented Friday to the Financial Oversight & Management Board created by the federal Promesa law. The plan proposes a reduction to the number of public agencies, from 114 to 66.
Moreover, Ríus said the local Health Department will count on Obamacare funds to subsidize the services provided by health plans until early 2018. However, what happens after that is yet uncertain.
Ríus mentioned that whoever is elected as resident commissioner, either New Progressive Party candidate Jenniffer González or Popular Democratic Party candidate Héctor Ferrer, should strive to obtain more funds for the island.
“Whether it’s [attorney] González or Ferrer who go to Washington, along with the elected governor they will have to fight for Puerto Rico to be granted at least the same amount being given through Obamacare,” Ríus said.
As for the possibility that the island’s healthcare system collapses, the secretary said the government should ensure basic health services to citizens.
“[We] have to see the proposals the government offers, and at the same time what the public can contribute,” he said.
Were the healthcare system to collapse, some 1.6 million beneficiaries covered by the Medicaid program would lose their healthcare services.