The Resident Commissioner in Washington, Jenniffer González, said today that the government of Puerto Rico will not lose the $ 1 billion of the Medicaid program allocated to the island for this federal fiscal year, and emphasized that since last week it has been working on several initiatives so that these funds are used in the expansion of other initiatives.
“I met two weeks ago with the administrator of the Health Insurance Administration (ASES) and I met with the Fiscal Oversight Board (JSF) and last Friday I told the governor (Wanda Vázquez Garced) directly that Puerto Rico can request that those funds be used to expand other programs, “he said.
He said this money could be used for, for example, the purchase of insulin and glucometers or to pay for the transportation of patients and uncovered vaccines.
In a press conference from the headquarters of the New Progressive Party (PNP), in San Juan, González pointed out that ASES is working on several actuarial studies in order to present to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in which areas the money could be used retroactively. “What we are looking for is to be allowed to use that rollover of funds once the program is reauthorized to use them perhaps in other things, but for what we had it, it will not be possible “, he acknowledged.
In a letter sent to the leadership of Congress, dated September 1, Vázquez Garced alleged that the complications of the pandemic and the controls of the Fiscal Oversight Board (JSF) will cause $ 1,054 million of the $ 2,916 million in Medicaid funds that Puerto Rico has been allocated for this federal fiscal year to be left unused.
The reelection candidate insisted that the funds will not be lost on October 1. With the start of the new federal fiscal year, she said, $ 2.172 million is allocated to the island for use over the next 12 months. “It is not that Puerto Rico has to make a check to the federal government … Puerto Rico will not miss a penny for any of the programs”, he pointed out.
The money at risk was to be used specifically to expand the number of beneficiaries of the Medicaid program by 220,000, through the Vital health plan. The Board, however, denied the government the use of the funds for this item on the grounds that once the funds expired, those families would be excluded from Medicaid, which “was going to be dangerous for Puerto Rico,” González explained. .
Given this scenario, González said that he is concerned that history will repeat itself this fiscal year, since the controversial item is included in the funds assigned to Puerto Rico for Medicaid for this new fiscal year. He warned that for this period its use must be changed in communication with the Board and with the approval of CMS and thus not leave out the possibility of using them in other games.
The non-use of funds occurs in the first year of the increase that would allow Puerto Rico to receive close to $ 2,916 million annually in Medicaid funds this federal fiscal year.
Congress approved in 2019 to allocate $ 5.742 million in Medicaid funds to Puerto Rico for federal fiscal years 2020, ending September 30, and 2021.