Saturday, September 19, 2020

Health workers may apply for Covid-19 relief starting Saturday

By on May 28, 2020

(CyberNews photo)

Medical residents, nurses, technicians can request the financial aid on Treasury’s website

SAN JUAN – Eligible healthcare professionals in Puerto Rico will be able to request Covid-19 epidemic relief aid from the commonwealth government’s $100 million stimulus plan through the Treasury Department’s electronic platform beginning Saturday, Treasury Secretary Francisco Parés Alicea announced Thursday.

Medical residents, nurses and medical technicians in the private sector who comply with certain requirements will be allowed to apply for the monetary help on Treasury’s Unified Internal Revenues System (SURI by its Spanish acronym), as has been done with other coronavirus government aid, between Saturday, May 30, starting at 9 a.m., and June 30, Parés said.

The official called on health professionals to consult Circular Letter 20-1, published jointly with the Health Department on Treasury’s website, www.hacienda.pr.gov, to learn about the specific qualifications and information that will be required.

Eligibility for Covid-19 aid for health workers is subject to the following conditions:

  • Being a resident, domiciled in Puerto Rico as of March.
  • Be duly authorized to practice the profession.
  • Be actively practicing the profession as of March.
  • Not be on unpaid leave as of March.
  • If practicing two eligible professions, only the highest benefit can be received.

Parés said that for the purposes of the aid, the term “private sector” will apply to “individuals who work as employees of entities or for private persons,” including nonprofits, or who exercise the eligible profession as an independent contractor. Moreover, he said, for the purposes of Circular Letter 20-1, “private sector” also includes the VA Caribbean Healthcare System in Puerto Rico.

The relief payments for the corresponding professionals are $3,000 for nurses employed in the private sector; $3,500 for nurses under a professional services contract; $1,000 for medical technicians; and $1,000 for residency physicians.

Parés stressed that these professions were singled out by the Puerto Rico Health Department as eligible for the financial stimulus, given that they are included in the database of professionals with active licenses during the emergency declared due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  

“If the information of the eligible individual does not match with the Health Department database, the system will not allow them to complete the process, and in such cases should submit a claim request to the Health Department,” he said, noting that these claims should be emailed to incentivoprofesionales@salud.pr.gov. “This email can also be used to request additional information related to the provisions of the joint Circular Letter.”

The Treasury chief said that applicants may request assistance to register a SURI account by emailing the message “Asistencia con su acceso” (Assistance with access) or by visiting the “Frequently Asked Questions” section of SURI’s website. Individuals who do not have a SURI account may visit Treasury’s homepage and select “Enlaces rápidos nuevos” (New fast links) and select “Incentivo Profesionales de la Salud – Sector Privado” (Health Professionals Incentive – Private Sector) and enter the required information, he said.

Parés said he met with representatives from several medical professional groups and unions to provide them with an orientation by SURI personnel on applying for the Covid-19 relief aid. The Practicing Nurses Association (Colegio de Enfermería Práctica, or CEP) and the Nurse Professionals Association (Colegio de Profesionales de la Enfermería, or CPE) participated in the training, as well as Desirée López Ramírez, a representative of the workers union at Pavía Hospital, and José Rodríguez Báez, the service representative from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), he said, stressing they can help clear up any doubts applicants may have .

CPE President Dr. Ana Cristina García said her organization provided “all of the information needed to speed up this process” so that “our professional nurses…can receive their much-deserved incentive as soon as possible.”  

For his part, Health Secretary Lorenzo González Feliciano said that some 35,000 nurses, medical technologists and medical residents are expected to receive the relief aid, calling them “highly deserving of the economic stimulus.”

“With these incentives we are doing justice to health professionals who are in the front line of the battle against Covid-19,” he said in a statement. “Every day, these professionals go to their workplaces with the same commitment and in emergency situations, give 100% and put their hearts into caring for each patient who needs health services.”

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