What the American Health Care Act means for Puerto Rico and its healthcare system

by | Mar 21, 2017 | Congress, Headlines | Comments

Republicans are working to finally repeal the Affordable Care Act and substitute it with their own health care reform, the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Meanwhile, Puerto Ricans are facing a healthcare crisis with doctors leaving the islands, hospitals closing, and it’s locally funded health care system being underfunded. Health care has even become a tool for politicians, with the Governor Ricardo Rossello threatening the students of the University of Puerto Rico that if budget cuts aren’t made to the higher education institution, then health care would have to take the burden.

The ACA, was not directly applicable to the US territory, and couldn’t help mitigate the effects the economic crisis has on Puerto Ricans’ health care. The AHCA goes along the same route and takes it a step further. There is no mention of Puerto Rico or US territories in the bill. However, it will affect the Planned Parenthood clinics in the islands, even though the family planning clinics help in spreading awareness and protection for the ongoing zika crisis.

In 2012, the uninsured rate in Puerto Rico was at 10 percent, lower than 47 states and other US territories, yet that percent means nothing if their health care needs aren’t being met. Puerto Ricans are among the sickest Americans in the United States and with a poverty rate of 46.2 percent, many are left to depend on public health care to cover the costs of health care.

As the recipients of Medicaid increase, so do the budget cuts to the program therefore becoming underfunded and unable to meet the needs of its beneficiaries.