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Jenniffer González fights for equal Medicare funding in Puerto Rico

By on February 6, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González announced on Twitter that she presented a bill to increase Medicare funding in Puerto Rico to pay for medicine for senior citizens and people with disabilities.

House Bill 797 aims for Puerto Rico to receive equal health care fund assignments as the states, since the local government is expected to pay for half the cost of those distributions, whereas states aren’t expected to achieve fund parity. This, González said, is “discriminatory” against Puerto Ricans due to the island’s colonial condition.

“This bill is part of my plan to end second-class treatment given to Puerto Ricans due to our territorial condition, especially to our most vulnerable, such as people with low income who depend on Medicare Section D to acquire their medicine,” said González in written declarations. If approved, it would represent almost $35 million more in comparison to Fiscal Year 2015.

The resident commissioner explained that the U.S. government pays the total or near total amount of medicine costs for senior citizens or people with disabilities residing in the states, with incomes up to 150% the national poverty level, via Section D of the health care program.

Puerto Rico was eligible for health care funding of $43,580,880 to $51,701,315 annually between Fiscal Years 2010-2016, but it only had access to $9,240,022 to $28,332,152 annually, because the local government couldn’t achieve fund parity. From a potential assignment of $324,352,032, the island only received $166,740,677.

See also: Rosselló emphasizes historic importance of status referendum act

González took the opportunity to emphasize the importance of voting for statehood in the June 11 status plebiscite, option she deems essential not only to achieve equal treatment in fund assignments, but to overcome the island’s fiscal and social crises.

“The upcoming referendum is a clear opportunity to let the United States know that Puerto Rico wants full equality in all senses, and that health is imperative for progress and well-being. Until we can express ourselves as a people, I will fight so we can achieve the highest quantity of possible funds, starting with that which both House and Senate Republicans and Democrats have agreed upon,” she affirmed.

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