FY17 Federal Funding Agreement Includes Funding for Puerto Rico: $296M in Medicaid support, $3.3M for San Juan Harbor Improvement, $750K to initiate Caño Martín Peña, and other projects for Puerto Rico
(May 1, 2017 – San Juan, Puerto Rico) Governor Ricardo Rosselló confirmed that Puerto Rico was included in the Appropriations package expected to be approved by Congress this week, which will guarantee $296 million toward the Medicaid shortfall, $3.3 million for the dredging works in the San Juan Harbor, and $750 thousand to initiate work Martín Peña Channel. Additionally, the agreement includes funding specific to Puerto Rico for the Department of Homeland Security’s “Operation Stonegarden” and technical assistance to be provided by the U.S. Treasury.
Medicaid Funding ($296M): In 2010, Affordable Care Act provided supplementary funding for the island that will be exhausted without additional Federal support. The $296M in Medicaid funding issued in the FY17 spending agreement represents about half of what Puerto Rico will need in order to continue to provide coverage to its Medicaid eligible population in the next fiscal year.
“I extend my gratitude to the White House Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, who, after our conversation, understood the urgent need of Puerto Rico’s Medicaid eligible population. Likewise, I would like to thank the US Secretary of Health, Tom Price, for establishing grounds for discussion at the federal executive level and Congress regarding the need for health funding for American citizens who reside in Puerto Rico,” said governor Rosselló.
Since his inauguration in January 2017, Governor Rosselló has been working diligently to ensure funding stability in the Mi Salud program: “We are assuming responsibility. We are taking hard measures here in Puerto Rico in order to have a path forward,” Rossello said. “But we also need a runway.”
The recently announced funding provides breathing room while the Governor and the US Congress work to find a long-term solution so that the Governor can negotiate effective contracts with the Managed Care Organizations.
Rosselló also acknowledged the Democratic Party leadership in the Senate and House of Representatives, Charles Schumer and Nancy Pelosi; and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez; as well as the House of Representatives Speaker, Paul Ryan; Senator Marco Rubio and Congressman Sean Duffy from the Republican Party, “for understanding that Puerto Ricans’ access to healthcare is not a partisan issue.”
Likewise, the Governor thanked the efforts and work of Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González and the Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA,) Carlos R. Mercader, and informed that both continue to work together so that Puerto Rico is included in future legislation. He added that “we are hopeful in the commitment by Speaker Ryan, who has assured that a comprehensive solution on this matter will be addressed this year in future legislation.”
San Juan Harbor Improvement ($3.3M): The FY17 funding agreement provides for both feasibility ($730K) and construction funding ($2.3M) to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the San Juan Harbor Improvement project. The project is designed to meet increasing demands of the growing global economy, the shipping and cruise industries as they progress to larger, more efficient vessels. Governor Rosselló stated, “the enhancement of San Juan Harbor is critical to the growth of our economy. Commercial and cruise ships are currently limited by the width and depth of the channel. This project will allow simpler ingress and egress of modern vessels.”
San Juan Harbor is located on the north coast of Puerto Rico and is the island’s principal port. The majority of the island’s waterborne cargo and cruise ships pass through the harbor, handling more than 75 percent of the Puerto Rico’s non-petroleum waterborne commerce. The Army Corps is partnered with the Puerto Rico Port Authority, which owns, operates, and manages facilities for cargo and cruise vessels at the harbor.
Martin Peña Channel (“Caño Martin Peña”) ($750K): The $750,000 provided in the agreement will enable the Caño Martín Peña project to proceed to the Preconstruction Engineering & Design (PED) phase, which is the long-awaited next step before construction. The Corps of Engineers will complete the engineering studies and designs for dredging approximately 2.2 miles of the eastern half of the Caño to a width of 100 feet and a depth of 10 feet, with slight variations in channel width and depth at the several bridges that cross the Caño.
Since his inauguration, Governor Rosselló has been urging Congress and the top civilian and military leaders of the Corps of Engineers to move the project forward. The Caño is one of the Governor’s highest environmental priorities. “The water quality, and habitat in San Juan Bay estuary, and tidal connection between San Jose Lagoon and San Juan Bay are critical to improving economic opportunities and restoring a healthy community and we will continue to work with Congress to expedite and fund the remainder of the project,” the Governor said in a statement.