US lawmakers urged to extended federal health access to Puerto Rico

28 Jul 17

Campaigners have called on members of the US House of Representatives to ensure better access to federal healthcare programmes for residents of Puerto Rico.

The 650 faith communities and religious bodies that belong to the Jubilee USA campaign wrote to representatives to urge quick implementation of recommendations by the bipartisan Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico.

“In particular, Puerto Rico needs equitable access to federal healthcare programs and tax credits,” the letter from Jubilee USA executive director Eric LeCompte said.

“These recommendations are essential for reducing poverty for nearly 60% of kids who live in poverty on the island.”

Congress ‎included $295m for Puerto Rico's Medicaid programme in the 2017 spending bill, which Jubilee USA called “an important stopgap”, but warned: “900,000 American citizens in Puerto Rico remain at risk of losing healthcare coverage if Congress does not finance Puerto Rico's Medicaid and Medicare programmes”.

It said health spending in Puerto Rico should be comparable to that in the 50 US states but instead “disparity in coverage drives doctors and residents to move from the island to one of the states”.

LeCompte also urged congress to extend the federal child tax credit to Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico is a Caribbean island that is a US unincorporated territory, controlled by the US but not part of it.

There have been periodic campaigns for the territory to gain statehood.

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