Yesterday the Office of Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi received notifications from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, that the Government of Puerto Rico did not submit newly signed contracts with medical insurance provider Triple S with enough time to the CMS, reason for which the government must wait before it uses funds from the Affordable Care Act for the local Mi Salud (My Health) program. The notification prompted Pierluisi to issue a statement demanding an explanation from the administration of Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla on the apparent mishandling of the situation.
“Yesterday, I was notified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, that they have issued a warning to the García Padilla Administration that it will not be able to draw down federal funding for the Mi Salud program that is available under the Affordable Care Act because the Administration failed to timely submit to CMS the contracts that it signed with Triple S, and so those contracts have not yet been reviewed and approved” said Pierluisi.
Pierluis added that “Evidently, even though the federal government funds most of the Mi Salud program, the Puerto Rico government went ahead and signed these contracts without providing any notice to CMS, and CMS was not aware of these contracts. CMS has indicated to me that it has notified the Puerto Rico government that CMS must carefully review these contracts to ensure that they comply with all applicable federal rules and regulations before additional federal funding can be released. This is a deeply disturbing development. For the Garcia Padilla Administration to sign these contracts without ensuring that these contracts were acceptable to CMS, thereby putting at risk the federal funding I and others worked so hard to obtain in 2010, is profoundly irresponsible.”
The Resident Commissioner, who serves as Puerto Rico’s sole non-voting representative in Congress, urged the Governor and the Secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Health, Francisco Joglar “to provide a full accounting of what has occurred and how they intend to fix the problem they have created.” The incident puts the healthcare insurance program of 1.6 million Americans in Puerto Rico at risk, since as Pierluisi stated, it is the Federal Government who funds most of the Mi Salud program.
As of press time, there has been no response from Garcia Padilla or Joglar.