Darren Soto, Gus Bilirakis Propose Extending Medicaid Funds for Puerto Rico, Territories

Last week, two members of the Florida delegation on Capitol Hill–U.S. Reps. Darren Soto, D-Fla., and Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla.–brought out a proposal providing five years of Medicaid funds and eight years of funds for other American territories.

Soto introduced the “Supporting Medicaid in the U.S. Territories Act” with Bilirakis as a co-sponsor. More than a dozen other members of the U.S. House are backing the proposal including U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., and Val Demings, D-Fla.

Unlike the 50 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico is not automatically included in the Medicaid budget, ensuring Congress needs to vote on its Medicaid funds. Currently, Puerto Rico’s Medicaid is funded through the start of October.

“For far too long, Puerto Rico’s health system has operated with uncertainty regarding its Medicaid system,” said Soto. “This has led to a breakdown in healthcare and eroding of hospitals there. This steady funding will be foundational for building Puerto Rico’s healthcare system back better.”

“We have an obligation to ensure a continued safety net for our most vulnerable patient populations while putting safeguards in place to strengthen accountability for the wise use of taxpayer dollars and incentivize best practices in the Medicaid program,” said Bilirakis.

The bill was sent to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee last week and its Health Subcommittee reviewed it on Friday. Leadership on both sides of the aisle, including U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-NJ, the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., the top Republican on it, is behind the proposal.

There is no companion measure over in the U.S. Senate.

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

 

KEVIN DERBY
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