Jenniffer González-Colón and José Serrano lead offensive to address health providers reimbursements disparity

by | Mar 20, 2018 | Congress | Comments

Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner, Jenniffer González-Colón (R), and the Democratic Congressman for New York, José Serrano, asked the United States Secretary of Health & Human Servires, Alex Azar, to address the disparity in reimbursements to health providers in Puerto Rico under the Medicare Advantage (MA) program.

In his letter, which was joined by 23 other congressmen from both parties, they urged both Secretary Azar and the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) to “correct this historical disparity on the part of the federal administration toward the island, which would help reduce costly migration, curb the shortage of doctors and improve health services in general. ”

Already on December 18 of last year, the Resident Commissioner had sent another letter to the CMS Administrator, Seema Verma, along with several members of Congress making this claim, which she reiterated in subsequent meetings with both Verma and with officials of the Department of Health, federal and the Trump Administration.

Now, at a time when the federal Department of Health is preparing to issue its final decision on reimbursements for 2019, Gonzalez once again reaffirmed the need to address this claim.

Puerto Rico has about 580,000 beneficiaries of MA, representing almost 75% of the eligible population. This represents almost double that of any other jurisdiction in the United States. Despite the importance of this program on the Island, Puerto Rico has lost 20% of MA funding in the past six years.

Puerto Rico has a reimbursement rate that is 43% lower than the average in the United States and 26% below that received by health providers in the Virgin Islands. “This disparity has to end if we have any hope of improving the precarious health system of the island,” the congressmen said.

Congressmen stressed that even long before the damage caused by Hurricane Maria, the Working Group of the Congress for Economic Growth of Puerto Rico recommended that adjustments to Medicare Advantage rates be considered to better reflect the needs of the island.

In addition to González-Colón and Serrano, the other congressmen who signed the letter were: Sean P. Duffy, Pete Sessions, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Scott Perry, Sean Patrick Maloney, Carlos Curbelo, Don Bacon, Thomas MacArthur, Brian Fitzpatrick, Rob Bishop, Peter King, Mario Diaz-Balart, Gregory Meeks, Bobby L. Rush, Luis V. Gutierrez, Joseph Crowley, Stephanie Murphy, Grace Meng, Darren Soto, Adriano Espaillat, David P. Roe and Debbie Wasserman Schultz.