Puerto Rico’s Medicaid system was in trouble before Hurricane Maria hit the U.S. territory.
Now, thousands of residents are in need of medical care after Maria sapped power from most of Puerto Rico, and the island’s Medicaid funding is set to run out of money in the next few months.
Gov. Ricardo Rosselló came to Washington in September before Hurricane Maria and lobbied lawmakers to treat Puerto Rico’s Medicaid system like any other state. Currently, Congress provides Puerto Rico with a set amount of Medicaid dollars.
Sen. Bill Nelson filed legislation on Friday that would eliminate Puerto Rico’s cap on Medicaid funding as thousands of residents are in need of medical care in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
“The people of Puerto Rico need our help,” Nelson said in a statement. “As we work to help them recover and rebuild in the aftermath of this devastating disaster, we also have to look toward the future and help them avert what could be a serious health care crisis if nothing is done.”
Democratic Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, Richard Blumenthal, Bob Menendez and Cory Booker all signed on to the bill. Nelson is a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over Medicaid.
The bill would also provide prescription drug subsidies for low-income senior citizens in Puerto Rico.