In wake of one of the most devastating disasters to hit Puerto Rico, Florida U.S. Senator Bill Nelson filed legislation Thursday to prevent Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program from running out of money.
Nelson's office says as a U.S. territory, Puerto Rico receives only a fraction of the money states get for its Medicaid program.
Instead of providing the island with an open-ended amount of funding as states get, Nelson says Congress provided Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories with a set amount of money, which could soon run out if lawmakers fail to act.
Nelson says with nearly half of Puerto Rico’s 3.5 million residents on Medicaid, allowing the island’s Medicaid funding to run dry would result in hundreds of thousands of people losing access to much-needed health care.
To prevent the looming Medicaid-funding crisis, also known as the Medicaid-funding cliff, Nelson filed this legislation along with U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, and Robert Menendez and Cory Booker of New Jersey.
The legislation would eliminate the current cap on Medicaid funding and instead provide Puerto Rico access to the same open-ended funding system the states get.
In addition to helping Puerto Rico avert a potential health care crisis, Nelson's office says the legislation would also make some of Puerto Rico's low-income seniors eligible for federal subsidies to help them cover the cost of their prescription drug costs.
The legislation has been sent to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration.