Warren, Velázquez, Sanders, and Menendez Call for Emergency Funding for Puerto Rico after Hurricane Fiona
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Representative Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-V.t.), and Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) led a bicameral letter to Congressional leadership requesting emergency funding for Puerto Rico, with a focus on Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program, to ensure that those impacted by the hurricane will have access to the health coverage they need.
Nearly five years after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, Hurricane Fiona dealt another blow to the island, knocking out its power and causing severe flooding. Congress has previously passed emergency supplemental funding for natural disasters, including after Hurricane Maria, and the lawmakers called for similar action in the wake of Hurricane Fiona too.
“It is more imperative than ever that the residents of Puerto Rico are assured continued access to Medicaid coverage and services,” wrote the lawmakers. “Any new barriers to Puerto Ricans receiving medical assistance exacerbate an already unstable situation stemming from years of economic downturn, the COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters, and a painful debt-restructuring process that continues to leave the island with tens of billions of dollars of debt.”
Federal Medicaid policy has historically treated Puerto Rico inequitably, imposing arbitrarily low funding levels on Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program—both for its allotments and the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP)—that reduce its coverage level.
“At the very least, Congress should again temporarily increase the FMAP to 100%, to provide medium-term predictability for Puerto Rico and to reduce fiscal pressures that will undoubtedly be worsened by Hurricane Fiona’s fallout,” wrote the lawmakers. “In the longer term, Congress must act to increase Puerto Rico’s FMAP permanently—a step necessary to enabling Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program to plan coverage for services like long-term care.”
This letter was also signed by Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Representatives Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.), Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Darren Soto (D-Fla.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Joe Morelle (D-N.Y.), and David Cicilline (D-R.I.).
Senator Warren has been a steadfast advocate for the people of Puerto Rico.
- On September 26, 2022, Senator Warren joined Senator Gillibrand urging congressional leadership to provide emergency supplemental funding for disaster recovery and relief support as well as $1 billion in nutritional aid for Puerto Rico, and cosponsored the Puerto Rico Nutrition Assistance Fairness Act (S. 4967).
- Last week, Senator Warren led a letter to President Biden asking for the federal government to cover the full cost of FEMA aid to Puerto Rico. President Biden heeded this request.
- Also last week, Senator Warren joined a letter with Senator Menendez to President Biden supporting issuing a Major Disaster Declaration for Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Fiona. President Biden also heeded this request.
- In June 2019, Senator Warren cosponsored the Territories Health Equity Act, to equalize Medicaid funding for the territories and provide a 100% FMAP for FY2020 and 2021.
- In December 2017, Senator Warren joined Senators Booker (D-N.J.), Menendez (D-N.J.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) in urging Senate leaders to boost Medicaid resources for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands while they negotiate a disaster relief package.
- After Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Senator Warren worked with Senator Sanders to author a “Marshall Plan” for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This comprehensive legislation would 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.
For information about Senator Warren’s work on Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, visit www.warren.senate.gov/puertorico.
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