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President Joe Biden has proposed to Congress that Puerto Rico should have access to Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs and food assistance.
In his budget proposal for fiscal year 2022, the U.S. president urged the elimination of the barriers that the island and other territories face in obtaining these benefits.
For Puerto Rico, Biden proposed an increase of billions of dollars annually in access to federal funds. “Health care is a right, not a privilege,” states the budget referred to Congress by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
“Joe Biden kept his word”
Governor Pedro Pierluisi applauded this request and assured that the Democrat kept his word: “I have no doubt that the U.S. Congress will do the same and the discrimination we have suffered in the past under the most important health program for American citizens will end.”
Now it is up to Congress to make the final calculation of the amount of these allocations, according to El Nuevo Día.
Pierluisi has criticized the Fiscal Oversight Board (FOSB), which controls the island’s elected government’s financial decisions, for projecting that Puerto Rico would only have $400 million to finance the vital health plan that depends mainly on funds from the Medicaid program. In that sense, he said he hopes that when Congress allocates the new Medicaid funds, the FOSB will come to its senses and eliminate a series of cuts, in his opinion unnecessary, in Puerto Rico’s government programs.
Puerto Rico would receive this federal fiscal year, which ends in September, a temporary appropriation of nearly $2.8 billion under the Medicaid program. Without a new appropriation, Puerto Rico’s health care system will receive only the $400 million guaranteed by the permanent law on October 1.
Pierluisi has calculated that lifting the nearly $400 million cap the island receives under the permanent law and giving Puerto Rico the treatment that U.S. states receive could amount to $4.174 million annually.