Puerto Rican ad blitz: Don't cut healthcare funding

Puerto Rican ad blitz: Don't cut healthcare funding

A coalition of Puerto Rican doctors, insurers and hospitals is urging Congress not to slash the island’s healthcare funding as it faces an already severe economic crisis.

The Puerto Rico Health Care Coalition is launching a $200,000 media blitz – consisting of TV, digital and print advertisements – in the D.C. area this week.

Leaders of the group, which is backed by the island’s governor, Alejandro García Padilla,  will also meet with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell on Monday afternoon.

Members of the group will press Burwell on a broad range of health issues, spokeswoman Gabriela Melendez said.

The D.C. campaign warns that Puerto Rico’s debt crisis could deepen if lawmakers carry out cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Medicare Advantage, which they say could lead to a total collapse of the healthcare system. Sixty percent of the island is insured through those three programs.

“A collapse will not only jeopardize care for millions of U.S. citizens, but could result in a dramatic blow to Puerto Rico’s economy,” the group’s ad warns.

The advocates warn that Puerto Rico's healthcare system will lose a half-billion dollars across the board if D.C. doesn't restore the funding, including $150 million to hospitals and $65 million to pharmaceutical companies.

The ads also underscore that Puerto Ricans pay the same Social Security and Medicare taxes “but get less than Americans who live on the mainland,” said Dennis Rivera, the coalition’s chairman.

Still, the program’s reimbursement rates for Medicaid, Medicare and Medicare Advantage are lower than any U.S. state, Rivera said.

The Puerto Rico Health Care Coalition met with officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) earlier this year.