Congressional Hispanic Caucus urges Trump administration to support Puerto Rico’s health care system during COVID-19 crisis

by May 13, 2020Congress, Coronavirus, Puerto Rico0 comments

Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus led by Chairman Joaquin Castro (D) sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Azar and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Verma urging them to use funding from the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act to support Puerto Rico’s health care infrastructure during this unprecedented pandemic.

As you know, the initial $30 billion disbursed by HHS provided funding to physician practices, hospitals, and other providers for Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B expenses.  An additional $22 billion in payments were obligated to hospitals with large numbers of COVID-19 inpatient admissions and rural providers.  The exclusion of payments for Medicare Advantage and Medicaid costs, including uncompensated care costs associated with treating Medicaid beneficiaries, disadvantages jurisdictions like Puerto Rico where most Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in MA plans and where almost half of the territory’s residents receive health coverage through Medicaid.

The letter was signed by Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Joaquin Castro (D) of Texas, First Vice Chair Ruben Gallego (D) of Arizomna, Second Vice Chair Nanette Diaz Barragán (D) of California, Whip Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) of New York, Freshman Representative Veronica Escobar (TX-16) of Texas, Puerto Rico Task Force Co-Chair Representative Nydia Velázquez (D) of New York, Puerto Rico Task Force Co-Chair Representative José E. Serrano (D) of New York, Puerto Rico Task Force Co-Chair Representative Daren Soto (D) of Florida, Representative Raúl M. Grijalva (D) of Arizona, Representative Jesús “Chuy” García (D) of Illinois, Representative Tony Cárdenas (D) of California, Representative Juan Vargas (D) of California, and Representative Albio Sires (D) of New Jersey.

The CHC remains focused on ensuring that Puerto Rico receives the support it needs to continue managing the COVID-19 outbreak.  Unfortunately, the territory’s health care infrastructure was already fragile from the onset of the pandemic, crippled by a physician shortage and Hurricane Maria, as some hospitals are still not operating at pre-storm levels,” the Members wrote. “In order to avoid exacerbating the existing public health and economic crisis in Puerto Rico, we urge you to consider capturing Medicare Advantage and Medicaid costs in forthcoming allocations of PHSSEF funding.”