December 06, 2017

Warren Joins Colleagues in Calling on Senate Leaders to Boost Medicaid Resources in Wake of Hurricanes

Text of the letter available here (PDF)

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today joined Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) in urging Senate leaders to boost Medicaid resources for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands while they negotiate a disaster relief package.

In a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the senators highlighted the urgent need to bolster Medicaid programs in U.S. territories devastated by recent hurricanes.

"Among the many challenges facing the territories are medical and public health concerns that range from managing chronic conditions, preventing the spread of disease, and supporting those experiencing mental health issues, like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder," the senators wrote. "As we continue to support investments in public health infrastructure, response, and surveillance, it is imperative that residents of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands also maintain access to Medicaid coverage and services."

The senators also highlighted the Medicaid funding disparities that exist between the territories and states, and how those disparities exacerbated the damage caused by the hurricanes. The Senators asked leadership to increase the federal matching rate for the territories' Medicaid programs from its current level of 55 percent to 100 percent, and to eliminate the cap on Medicaid spending in the territories.

The senators also asked leadership to work with states and territories to ease Medicaid's documentation requirements for those who have been displaced by the hurricanes and may have lost personal documents needed to apply for Medicaid coverage.

The letter was also signed by Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

In the months since Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Senator Warren has:

  • Co-led a letter to appropriators ‎urging disaster funding for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands sufficient to address the extent of destruction the territories suffered.
  • Led a group of senators in calling for an investigation of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) decision to award over $30 million in contracts for tarps for Puerto Rico that were never delivered.
  • Introduced a comprehensive plan, along with Senator Sanders and colleagues, to address the immediate humanitarian needs in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and ensure that the islands not only recover, but are able to rebuild in a way that empowers them to thrive. 
  • Led five of her Senate colleagues in writing to the Department of Defense to request information on the Department's efforts to provide medical care in the aftermath of Hurricanes Maria, and to request information on the role of the USNS Comfort in the Department's Puerto Rico response efforts. 
  • Joined colleagues in urging Senate appropriators to include in a third disaster supplemental bill additional funding to help schools impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. 
  • Urged Puerto Rico's Financial Oversight and Management Board to request that the Court overseeing Puerto Rico's debt restructuring completely write off the Island's debt obligations. 
  • Led a group of 12 senators asking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for information about water- and vector-borne diseases in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 
  • Written to the Trump Administration outlining what ought to be included in a third disaster supplemental appropriations bill to address the damage caused by hurricanes and wildfires across the country. 
  • Joined colleagues in demanding federal agencies expedite power restoration efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 
  • Joined in leading a group of 7 senators in pushing the Trump administration to increase efforts on Vieques and Culebra, especially securing the Vieques Superfund site. 
  • Urged the Department of Education to use its discretion to help college students and student loan borrowers displaced or otherwise unable to continue their education in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. 
  • Led a group of senators urging DHS to take steps to ensure the accuracy of the official fatality count in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. 
  • Called for Puerto Rico's debt relief during a Capitol Hill rally in coordination with the #JustRecovery march. 
  • Participated in a FEMA briefing on the status of recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 
  • Led a coalition of senators in a letter to President Trump, urging him to step up disaster recovery efforts on the Puerto Rican islands of Vieques and Culebra. 
  • Held community meetings in Massachusetts to discuss the economic and humanitarian crises on the islands. 
  • Pressed President Trump to take eight immediate, specific actions in response to the crisis in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 
  • Urged HHS to provide additional resources and better coordinate efforts to combat the growing public health crisis on the ground. 
  • Called on the President to use his authority under the Defense Production Act to more swiftly respond to the disaster. 
  • Written to Republican leadership requesting that Congress be allowed to promptly take up legislation to provide the necessary aid to the U.S. citizens living on the islands. 
  • Asked President Trump to waive the local cost-sharing requirement for the hurricane response in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and for the federal government to fully cover recovery expenses. 
  • Joined Senator Markey in calling for a resolution to the Univision-Verizon retransmission dispute, to hasten the restoration of Spanish-language news programming in the wake of the hurricanes.