Government of Puerto Rico Urges Congress to End the Disparate Treatment of Puerto Rico in Medicaid, SSI, and SNAP

The Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, Carmen M. Feliciano submitted a written statement before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources as part of a hearing entitle: “The President’s FY22 Budget Priority for the Territories: Medicaid, SSI, and SNAP Parity.”

(July 28, 2021 – Washington, DC) – Today, in a written statement submitted to the House Committee on Natural Resources the Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA), Carmen M. Feliciano, Esq. urged Congress to treat Puerto Rico equal to the states in the Medicaid program, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) so that residents of the Island receive the same benefits enjoyed by those who live on the mainland.

The statement for the record was submitted as part of the hearing entitled: “The President’s FY22 Budget Priority for the Territories: Medicaid, SSI, and SNAP Parity.” The hearing included representatives from several U.S. territories and field experts on these policy issues. Among the witnesses was former Governor of Puerto Rico, the Honorable Luis Fortuño. 

In her statement, the Executive Director addressed the disparities between the states and Puerto Rico’s healthcare program, accentuating the historical limitations and shortfalls affecting Medicaid funding. Feliciano outlined the history of Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program that serves over 1.4 million low-income U.S. citizens and forewarned Members of the Committee of the upcoming “Medicaid cliff” on September 30, 2021. While Feliciano recognized in her statement that the bipartisan agreement reached in the Subcommittee on Health of the House Energy & Commerce Committee would prevent the “Medicaid cliff” she reaffirmed Governor’s Pierluisi position stating, “that the only long-term solution to this disparate treatment is for Puerto Rico to be treated as a state.”

The Executive Director also addressed Puerto Rico’s Nutritional Assistance Program (NAP per its Spanish acronym) that serves over 800,000 families and a total of 1.5 million U.S. citizens, as well as the Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits. In her statement, she denounced the unequal treatment that American citizens who reside on the Island are subjected to and called for food security and equal treatment in SSI for the people of Puerto Rico. 

“I thank Chairman Grijalva, Vice Chairman Sablan, Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González- Colón, and Ranking member Westerman, as well as other members of the House Natural Resources Committee, for placing front and center these important federal programs that affect the quality of life in our Island. Puerto Rico has been excluded and treated differently under Medicaid, SSI, and SNAP for far too long. Governor Pierluisi has reiterated his support for state-like treatment so that the American citizens of Puerto Rico can have the same opportunities and benefits as those that reside on the U.S. mainland,” said PRFAA’s Executive Director, Carmen M. Feliciano. 

“The President’s Fiscal Year 22 budget includes language that eliminates Medicaid funding caps for Puerto Rico and aligns the matching rate with those of the states while moving towards parity in Medicaid and other federal programs. This budget serves as a starting point for lawmakers to determine funding levels and national spending priorities. Puerto Rico is a priority for the President, and it should be a priority for all Members of Congress. I believe we have the opportunity to address the disparities in all federal programs that have long perpetuated the unequal treatment of the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico,” concluded Feliciano. 

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