Puerto Rico Gov. Pierluisi Travels to Capitol Hill
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi will continue efforts at Capitol Hill this week seeking equal treatment in Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program. As part of these efforts, the governor will participate in several meetings ahead of Sept. 30, which is the deadline for both the federal House of Representatives and Senate to allocate funds for Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program and avoid a “fiscal cliff.”
Last week, Pierluisi sent a letter to congressional leaders urging them to permanently correct Puerto Rico’s unequal treatment in the federal allocation for the Medicaid program on the island. The letter highlights that, although Congress limited the distribution of funds to the program and the matching rate it receives from the federal government, for the past decade, it has provided temporary increases above established appropriations due to the evident insufficiency of funds to cover Puerto Rico’s medical needs.
In the letter, Pierluisi insists that Puerto Rico’s health care program lacks the necessary funding compared to smaller states with higher per capita incomes. The letter adds that this has contributed to the prevalence of chronic diseases and the lack of medical infrastructure in Puerto Rico.
“I urge congressional leaders to develop a permanent solution that corrects disparities in Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program and provides the same access to health services that exists throughout our nation,” the governor said in a press release. “Puerto Rico deserves to be treated similarly to a state in the island’s Medicaid program, and anything less than that represents discrimination against our island’s most vulnerable citizens simply because of their geographic location. We need a long-term solution to this problem.”
The governor warned that failure to allocate funds to the Medicaid program could cause the disenrollment of hundreds of thousands of current Medicaid recipients. In addition, it could lead to reductions in benefits, interruptions in funding for the Hepatitis C program, cuts in other health programs, and reduced payments to providers that will increase the flight of doctors and beneficiaries and continue to weaken Puerto Rico’s already fragile health system.
Pierluisi shared with congressional leaders the “Puerto Rico Medicaid: State-Like Treatment to Avoid the Fiscal Cliff,” a document that describes the overall impact that the Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) has on the island’s Medicaid program, in contrast to the treatment states receive.
“While recent increases in funding allocations have been extremely beneficial, they have prevented sustainable improvements and have placed a greater burden on our Medicaid program …,” the governor added. “We must find a permanent solution to ensure an adequate allocation of funds to meet the island’s medical needs. I am confident that members of Congress will be able to resolve the funding gap for our Medicaid program, and that they agree with me and President Joe Biden that the best solution will be to extend equal treatment to Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program.”
Pierluisi will be in Washington D.C. until Friday, June 25. Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli will serve as acting governor until Pierluisi returns to the island.