House floor speech in support of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which includes Medicaid funding for Puerto Rico

May 3, 2017

My thanks to Chairman Frelinghuysen for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, as a fiscal conservative, let me set the record straight. This bill’s $296 million Medicaid funding is just a bridge. This legislation simply reprograms this funding to partially address the impending Medicaid cliff.  In short, this allocation does not constitute new money.  

There should be no mistake, although the territories’ Medicaid programs historically have been underfunded, Puerto Rico’s current Medicaid cliff is the direct result of ObamaCare.  Congress must understand that failure to address the cliff in a meaningful way will provoke a complete collapse of Puerto Rico’s health care delivery system, and make worse the already ongoing mass exodus from the Island to the mainland’s states, such as Florida and North Carolina.   

Over 1.4 million United States citizens on the Island receive health services through Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program at a per member, per year, rate of $167 versus the $500 to $600 dollars in the fifty states.  Puerto Rico ranks among the nation’s most efficient Medicaid systems. 

Puerto Rico recognizes the fiscal reality of the island and is committed to making additional reforms to make its health care system more efficient and accountable.   

Finally, I want to thank Speaker Paul Ryan, Chairman Frelinghuysen, Chairman Cole, Representatives Serrano and Velazquez, and many other colleagues in the House and Senate, including the former members of the bipartisan Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico, for their strong support of this critically needed funding for my constituents, the 3.4 million American citizens of Puerto Rico.

I also want to thank our former colleague and now HHS Secretary Tom Price for his leadership on this matter.

I yield back the balance of my time.