Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands Express Opposition to Proposed Medicaid Cuts

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - April 25, 2012

Above: Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuño

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuño is expressing “total opposition” to a measure that could eliminate as much as $700 million in Medicaid funds for Puerto Rico.

The Governor’s call joins those by representatives from other US territories, including USVI Delegate Donna Christensen, Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi and American Samoa’s Eni Faleomavaega, among others.

“Although I’m certain that this measure will not become law, I have been actively intervening in the matter during the past two weeks,” Fortuño said.

According to the Governor, both his administration and Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner in Washington, Pedro Pierluisi, are working to address the issue.

Fortuño said he has been in talks with several Congressional Republican leaders “to let them know [his] strong opposition to the measure.”

The Governor also said that Puerto Rico would not be in the same situation if it had two senators and a congressional delegation “with full voting rights to defend Puerto Rico in the same condition as the other states of the Union.”

According to Pierluisi, the US federal government pays at elate 50 percent of the Medicaid program in each of the states, and upwards of 80 percent in the poorest states.

Federal law had imposed an annual cap on funding in the territories; that was changed by the Affordable Care Act, which provided the territories with $6.3 billion in Medicaid funding (including $5.4 billion for Puerto Rico.”

Pierluisi has written a letter to Rep. Fred Upton, the Republican Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, expressing his opposition to the bill, which would repeal the provision in the Affordable Care Act that mitigated the “unequal treatment that residents of [US] territories have historically been subject to under Medicaid.”

“My goal has been and is clear,” Fortuño said. “I will always defend my constituents above political affiliations and any other issue that impedes that objective.”

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