Velázquez Reintroduces Bill to Provide Medicaid Parity for Puerto Rico
Washington, D.C—Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) has reintroduced the “Puerto Rico Health Care Fairness, Accountability, and Beneficiary Access Act,” legislation that would put Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program on a path to parity with Medicaid programs in U.S. states.
“Even before the pandemic, Puerto Rico faced a looming health care crisis, which has been fueled by a disparate treatment under Medicaid,” said Velázquez. “Although the Island is one of the poorest parts of the United States, it receives significantly less in matching federal funds for Medicaid. Precisely as it confronts a global pandemic, the Island is unable to meet the needs of U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico. This bill would address the immediate shortfall and, at last, provide a path for Puerto Rico to receive the same treatment as states’ Medicaid programs.”
While states receive federal reimbursement under the Federal Matching Assistance Program (FMAP) based on their average per capita income, Puerto Rico receives a smaller percentage under current law. If its Medicaid reimbursement were calculated in the same manner as states, the Island would receive an 83% reimbursement rate based on the Island’s per capita income. If Puerto Rico doesn’t receive the money it deserves, it could revert back to an effective FMAP of approximately 15 percent.
Velázquez’s bill provides Puerto Rico $15.1 billion in federal funding at an 83% FMAP for the Medicaid program for a five-year period starting in Fiscal Year 2022. Starting in 2024, the bill begins a 10-year transition period, after which Puerto Rico would receive the same financial treatment and FMAP as state Medicaid programs. During that period, it requires Puerto Rico to incrementally cover mandatory benefits under Medicaid that currently are not covered by the territory.