As the US Congress prepares to vote on Friday, April 28 on a one-week stopgap spending bill to avoid a government shutdown, some members of Congress are trying to aid Puerto Rico’s ailing economy by adding additional funding to the island’s healthcare system.
President Donald Trump has taken the dispute to social media. In a series of tweets on Thursday, Trump accused Congressional Democrats of wanting to shut down the government if Puerto Rico is not “bailed out.”
Democrats are trying to bail out insurance companies from disastrous #ObamaCare, and Puerto Rico with your tax dollars. Sad!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 26, 2017
The Democrats want to shut government if we don't bail out Puerto Rico and give billions to their insurance companies for OCare failure. NO!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 27, 2017
Congressional leaders are facing the risk that the government will shut down if funding isn’t secured by Friday. Federal government offices, national parks and monuments will be closed, and nonessential government employees would be left without pay.
Puerto Rico has not been able to secure funding for its health care system. It was not included in the Affordable Care Act, but received a $6.4 billion grant. However, that grant is set to run out by the end of this year, leaving up to 900,000 people without health insurance.
Governor Ricardo Rossello’s spokesperson said “Trump’s statements do not reflect the overall sentiment regarding the discussion and analysis going on in Congress on this issue.” Thousands of public workers have gone on strike this week to protest imminent austerity measures.
@realDonaldTrump The American citizens of Puerto Rico deserve to be treated fairly. Health and civil rights are not partisan issues.
— Ricardo Rossello (@ricardorossello) April 27, 2017
A federal control board overseeing the territory’s finances warned that without additional funding, Puerto Rico would either be forced to drop these recipients or redirect money originally intended to pay creditors in its ongoing debt crisis.
“Given its magnitude, the cliff is certain to disrupt any existing stability in the provision of health care services in Puerto Rico for a large number of beneficiaries,” the board said last December.