Pressuring for Fund Allocation in Obamacare Replacement

Authorities fear the impact that the possible loss of $1.2 to $1.3 billion in Medicaid funds might have on the healthcare system

Washington – Yesterday, the Puerto Rican Government intensified their efforts to get the Republican majority of the House of Representatives to incorporate a financial bridge in the bill to replace Obamacare, seeking to compensate for the nearly $1.2 billion in annual Medicaid funds that will run out this year.

Resident Commissioner Jennifer González sent a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan, requesting to have Medicaid funds for Puerto Rico included in the federal reform that intends to repeal and replace Obamacare, so as to avoid a fiscal abyss in the healthcare system.

Governor Ricardo Rosselló wrote a letter to 13 governors from states with considerable Puerto Rican populations, asking them to add their congressmen and senators to his Government’s efforts. He argues that if the Puerto Rican migration to the United States continues, the medical service costs will increase expenses in their states.

Resident Commissioner González—along with Congressmen Sean Duffy (R-Wisconsin) and Carlos Curbelo (R-Florida)—met on March 7 with Speaker Ryan, after learning that the Republican bill to replace Obamacare did not include funding for Puerto Rico.

At that moment, Ryan told her he would try to address the Medicaid fund allocation in a possible omnibus spending bill in April, or in the reauthorization of the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which should happen no later than September.

“In my meeting with Speaker Ryan, I explained that the imminent economic and service abyss Puerto Rico will face with the depletion of Medicaid funds would have troubling repercussions in the budgets at a state and federal level, as well as a catastrophic effect in the health of the Island’s American citizens,” Commissioner González stated.

For his part, Governor Rosselló also highlighted this issue in his missives to the governors of Florida, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Ohio, New Jersey, Georgia, New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

“I’m reaching out to ask for your help in activating Florida’s Congressional delegation as a voice of reason in Congress on this issue, which is entirely avoidable. Moreover, Congress has a perfect opportunity to deal with this as it works to approve legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA),” stated Rosselló in a letter to Governor of Florida Rick Scott.

Meanwhile, a delegation from the Puerto Rican government—including New Progressive Party (NPP) and Popular Democratic Party (PDP) legislators, as well as private sector representatives—will lobby on Wednesday and Thursday in Congress for the Medicaid funds.

On Thursday, the Republican House Majority intends to vote on the proposed Obamacare replacement bill. According to NBC, President Donald Trump will meet today with the Republican majority to prevent a failure in passing the bill. The legislation will go to the Committee on Rules tomorrow, Wednesday.

Commissioner González upheld that they still are trying to include language in the Obamacare replacement bill that would “serve as a financial bridge for Medicaid, regardless of the allocations that may be achieved through other bills.”

The probabilities of success for that legislation are slim.

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