One of Puerto Rico’s top bankers today told the Senate Judiciary Committee that a full-blown financial collapse in the commonwealth could be especially hard on the sick and the elderly.
Richard Carrión, executive chairman of Banco Popular, testified at a hearing organized by the Senate Judiciary Committee that the commonwealth’s current debt problems are the result of years of fiscal mismanagement and of government policies that have held back economic growth.
But, because so many people in Puerto Rico are poor, and the average age is high, the effects of a default would be especially painful, Carrión said.
Puerto Rico has a population of about 3.6 million people, according to the Census Bureau.
“Approximately 600,000 Puerto Ricans could lose their health care coverage when Medicaid funds run out,” Carrión said.
About 175,000 retirees and other beneficiaries depend on benefits from government pension funds, Carrión added.
Many people in Puerto Rico are elderly, and the elderly population “is highly vulnerable to reductions in pension and health benefits,” he said.