La comisionada residente Jenniffer González.
Jenniffer González.

Washington Resident Commissioner, Jenniffer González, said yesterday that the government of Puerto Rico will not lose the $1.054 billion in Medicaid funds allocated to the island for this fiscal year, and added that she has been holding conversations aimed at using these funds in other initiatives.

She said this money could be used, for example, to buy insulin and glucometers or to pay for patient transportation services and non-covered vaccines.

In a press conference held at the New Progressive Party (PNP) headquarters in San Juan, González said that the Health Insurance Administration (PRHIA) is working on several actuarial studies to submit to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) the areas proposed to use the funds retroactively.

“What we are looking for is to be allowed to use that rollover once they reauthorize the program, to use these funds in other things, but it´s not going to be possible to use them for what we had them;” she acknowledged.

In a letter sent to the congressional leadership, dated September 1, Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced alleged that due to complications stemming from the pandemic and controls by the Oversight Board, $1.054 billion -of the $2.916 billion in Medicaid funds allocated to the island for this fiscal year- will remain unused.

The candidate for re-election insisted that the island will not lose these funds on October 1. With the new federal fiscal year, she said, there will be $2.172 billion allocated to the island to use over the next 12 months. “It’s not that Puerto Rico has to write a check to the federal government... Puerto Rico is not going to be one penny short in any of the programs.”

The money at risk was to increase the number of Medicaid participants by 220,000 through the Vital health plan. The Board, however, did not allow the government to use these funds for that item alleging that once they expired, those families would be left out of Medicaid, which “was going to be dangerous for Puerto Rico,” explained González.

Given this scenario, González said she is concerned this happens again this year since the item in controversy is included in the Medicaid funds for this new fiscal year. She warned this year, the use of these funds should be discussed with the Board and approved by the CMS.