Resident Commissioner: Trump Budget Provides Relief to P.R. Medicaid
SAN JUAN — Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González was optimistic that Puerto Rico’s Medicaid funds remain unaffected in President Donald Trump’s federal budget plan, which considers $610 billion in cuts to Medicaid over the next 10 years, as well as other multibillion-dollar slashes to the Affordable Care Act and food stamps, among other areas.
“Many people expected a dramatically negative impact on health for Puerto Rico. All the work we’ve been doing, not just myself, but also the Private Sector Coalition, the governor [Ricardo Rosselló], the [P.R.] Health secretary [Rafael Rodríguez Mercado], the Hospital Association, the College of Physicians and all organizations that provide guidance about the Medicaid situation,” she said on Wednesday during a radio interview on Radio Isla 1320.
Despite Trump’s proposed steep cuts to health, as revealed by the U.S. Office of Management & Budget, González explained her team gained more than $1.592 million in federal health funds for Puerto Rico, which would represent a $600 million increase in Medicaid funds for fiscal year 2018. “This is positive because it puts us afloat, ahead of the following fiscal year,” she said. Moreover, the government still lacks $390 million for the current fiscal year.
The budget includes increases in allocations for public school food programs, vocational rehabilitation and road funding, and hikes in other federal funds for Puerto Rico. However, as with other U.S. jurisdictions, the island faces reductions in federal funding in several public programs.
“Different leaders in Congress—including the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Orrin Hatch [R-Utah]—and their counterparts in the House of Representatives have already told the [Trump] administration they won’t allow such cuts,” the resident commissioner said.
As for proposed cuts to the island’s Nutritional Assistance Program (PAN by its Spanish acronym), González explained that although there will be cuts, Congress has already developed a counter-measure to lessen its impact.
The U.S. Congress is scheduled to consider the president’s budget plan.
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