MMAPA urges Congress to pass proposals from the resident commissioner designed to strengthen federal health programs for the American citizens of Puerto Rico
June 9, 2022
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón introduced H.R. 7997, the Achieving Equity in the Treatment of Dual Eligible Beneficiaries Act, which would mitigate Medicare funding disparities in Puerto Rico and expand access to the Medicare Savings Program to the territories. MMAPA strongly supports this proposal, and we thank the resident commissioner along with the eight members of Congress who signed on as original cosponsors, including Reps. Charlie Crist (D-FL-13), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1), Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL-27), Don Bacon (R-NE-2), Darren Soto (D-FL-9), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY-7), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY-13), and Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS-AL).
Puerto Rico faces longstanding disparities in funding for federal health programs as well as overall health outcomes compared to national averages, and Americans on the island report some of the highest levels of chronic disease. MMAPA celebrates this legislation as an opportunity to correct inequity and provide the more than 630,000 Medicare Advantage (MA) enrollees on the island with improved funding for the program they rely on.
"Over 80% of eligible American seniors in Puerto Rico choose Medicare Advantage, but MA rates on the island remain 41% below the national average and continue to fall further behind every year given historic anomalies in data and gaps in program benefits," said President Roberto Pando Cintrón. "MMAPA applauds Resident Commissioner González-Colón on this much-needed legislation to strengthen Medicare and Medicare Advantage in the territories, and we urge Congress to make this bill a priority."
MA rates in Puerto Rico are even dwarfed by neighboring territories, with the base payment rate in the Virgin Islands coming in 23% higher. This inadequate funding is compounded by natural disasters and an exodus of health care professionals from Puerto Rico in recent years, raising the need for equity to an absolute imperative.
"This legislation from Resident Commissioner González-Colón has the potential to alleviate much of the burden that 630,000 American seniors in Puerto Rico face just because they call the island home," said Ricardo Hernández, Executive Director of Sistema de Salud Menonita. “Congress must consider this proposal, as it will be a major step forward for health care quality and access in Puerto Rico."
For more information on the Achieving Equity in the Treatment of Dual Eligible Beneficiaries Act, MMAPA has shared a factsheet as well as a Dear Colleague letter from several cosponsors on our website.