Sen. Bernie Sanders has introduced a bill that could make funding for the Medicaid and Medicare programs in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and other U.S. territories more like the Medicaid and Medicare programs in the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
Sanders — a Vermont independent who votes with the Democrats in the Senate, and who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination — has rounded up support from seven Democratic colleagues in the Senate for S. 1773, the “Territories Health Equity Act of 2019″ bill.
Sanders notes in a summary of the bill that the United States provides open-ended funding for Medicare in the 50 states and the District of Columbia but puts a statutory cap on Medicaid spending in the territories.
The federal government also keeps low-income people in the territories from getting Medicare Part D prescription drug plan subsidies, and it holds reimbursement rates for hospitals in the territories to unrealistically low levels, Sanders says.
About 4 million people live in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands.’