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Health Secretary to lobby Washington to prevent collapse of Obamacare

By on January 13, 2017

SAN JUAN — Newly confirmed Puerto Rico Health Secretary Rafael Rodríguez Mercado said Friday that he will not stand by the possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act in the United States Congress.

It would affect 900,000 Puerto Rican recipients of the Government Health Plan, the secretary stated.

Rafael Rodríguez Mercado will visit the US Congress to lobby for Puerto Rico's Reforma (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Rafael Rodríguez Mercado will visit the U.S. Congress to lobby for Puerto Rico’s government health plan. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

“I am going next Wednesday with a group of officials from La Fortaleza to President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration and we will meet with several of his officials, including the secretary of Health to talk about the consequences this will have for Puerto Ricans,” the secretary said in a WKAQ radio interview.

“Nine-hundred thousand people could be left without the Reforma [public health plan], which would collapse the health system and not only affect the government, but hospitals as well as medical plans would cease to exist. If we sit back and do nothing, that’s what could happen,” he added.

The secretary of Health mentioned that the objective is to ensure that funds are allocated to maintain the Government Health Plan for at least one more year with the so-called Omnibus measure in Congress.

Rodríguez Mercado will be accompanied by Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González, and former Gov. Luis Fortuño, among others.

“The OmniBus measure should go to vote between March and April. So the quicker we start lobbying, the more possibilities we have,” he said.

One of the secretary of Health’s arguments is that there are Puerto Rican veterans and soldiers who have served in various wars and who use the Government Health Plan, so it would be unfair for them to be left without health care due to congressional action.

“Removing this will cost lives and we will not allow that,” he said.

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