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Lack of funding could leave Puerto Ricans without healthcare

In a series of tweets on April 17, Trump accused Democrats of wanting to shut down the government if Puerto Rico is not "bailed out."

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.”

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.

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.

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