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Puerto Rico Health Dept to pay gov’t hospitals directly

By on June 12, 2017

Puerto Rico Health Secretary Rafael Rodríguez. (Juan J. Rodríguez/CB)

SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico Health Secretary Rafael Rodríguez Mercado said Monday that the Health Department will pay hospitals under the Medical Services Administration (ASEM by its Spanish acronym) directly.

“The mechanism is quite easy. For example, if hospitals charge $3 million monthly, I [being] ASES [Spanish acronym for Health Insurance Administration], pay those $3 million to Centro Médico and that would maintain a cash flow. Then I wouldn’t pay insurers, but rather pay hospitals directly, and the insurers bill would be zero dollars because I already paid,” he said.

Besides Centro Médico, other hospitals that make up ASEM include Hospital Pediátrico, Hospital de Trauma and Hospital Industrial.

“We have done this already and it has resulted in savings,” the Health secretary assured.

Rodríguez Mercado made his remarks in an aside with the press during public hearings held by the House Treasury Committee.

Changes ahead for government budget

Meanwhile, the committee’s chairman, Rep. Antonio Soto, reiterated that the budget presented by the administration to the Financial Oversight & Management Board will face some changes.

“The island’s budget will face some changes, both in distribution of expenses of the different agencies that we have evaluated and we are also evaluating the concerns of the fiscal control board in relation to discretionary allocations and in relation to the spending reduction measures,” said the Guaynabo mayoral hopeful.

“I am convinced that by the end of the budget’s analysis, the House and Senate we will have developed a budget that will be certified by the [fiscal oversight] board,” he said.

The administration’s recommended budget is of about $9.55 billion.

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