Washington – Just today that a subcommittee of the Federal lower house will attend the matter in a hearing, a group of congressmen will propose this morning legislation that seeks to allocate $ 15,100 million in funds of Medicaid during the next five years to prevent the health system of Puerto Rico from collapsing as early as April 2020.
The legislation, authored by Puerto Rican Democrat Nydia Velázquez (New York), also provides a 10-year transition process for Congress to raise the permanent contribution of the federal government for services provided from Medicaid from 55% to 83%.
"Puerto Rico is facing a crisis in health care that, to a large extent, is due to the disparate treatment under Medicaid," Velázquez said last night.
The legislation is co-sponsored by the resident commissioner in Washington D.C., Jenniffer González, among others. Gonzalez indicated that the measure imposes requirements on Puerto Rico – such as raising the payment of hospitals to health professionals and coverage for hepatitis C – to raise the cap on the federal contribution to services financed by Medicaid. "It's going to allow a 10-year transition," he said.
Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares had requested that Congress, at least, resolve the possible fiscal collapse of the health system, which is estimated at $ 1,200 million, with an allocation of $ 15,100 million for the next five years, which would represent about $ 3,100 million annual
Today, the Health Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee of the Lower Chamber will analyze the crisis facing Puerto Rico and the other territories. The president of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Democrat Frank Pallone (New Jersey), has said he is committed to finding a solution for next September.
Velázquez's project, endorsed by the Democratic leadership of the lower house, can be that solution.
"The fiscal cliff of Medicaid facing Puerto Rico is an emergency that must be addressed urgently," said the executive director of the Health Insurance Administration (ASES), Ángela Ávila, in the paper she submitted yesterday in writing and will read today in the session.
Ávila, as representative of the Puerto Rican government, will be the only speaker on the island at the hearing, which will include representatives from other territories.
In the case of Puerto Rico, the $ 4,800 million in emergency Medicaid funds that Congress granted after Hurricane Maria are exhausted or can not be used as of October 1. Meanwhile, by the end of the year, the government of Puerto Rico will be left without the surplus of funds, about $ 586 million, which assigned the law known as Obamacare.
Under a permanent law, Puerto Rico receives about $ 380 million annually in Medicaid funds. Because of this, Ávila has estimated in $ 1,200 million annually the fiscal cliff in which the health system of Puerto Rico would fall in April 2020 and in 600,000 the number of people who would be without medical service, almost half of the patients of the plan Vital of the government of the Island.
In her speech today, the ASES director will advocate the special allocation of $ 15.1 billion in Medicaid funds that can be used over the next five years.
Although they will not testify at the hearing, the president of the Hospital Association, Jaime Plá, and the president of the Chamber of Commerce, Kenneth Rivera Robles, presented written presentations before the Energy and Commerce Committee.
"Congress has continuously confronted this matter of the precipice of Medicaid. Removing the cap on allocations will eliminate the need for Congress to return again and again to this issue, "said Plá. Rivera Robles, meanwhile, said that "there is no doubt that medical care is an essential service and Puerto Ricans deserve equal treatment."
In its annual report to Congress, meanwhile, the Medicaid Payment and Access Commission and Children's Health Plan (MACPAC) supported making changes to the funding structure for Puerto Rico of the Medicaid program, with an appeal to resolve, in the long term, the fiscal cliff faced by the Puerto Rican health system.
According to MACPAC, Puerto Rico will have a fiscal deficit of $ 1,010 million dollars in the federal fiscal year 2020, which begins in October, when the non-permanent funds that have been allocated in recent years have been depleted.
But, the MACPAC estimates – an agenda created by Congress to advise you on matters related to Medicaid and the Children's Health Plan (CHIP) are that for the federal fiscal year 2021, the deficit will reach $ 1,490 million.
"If Congress does not allocate more Medicaid funds, Puerto Rico will have to reduce spending, cutting benefits, the number of people registered or doing both," says the MACPAC report, published this month.
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