From bad to worse in Puerto Rico
President Trump says Puerto Rico has already gotten too much aid. He says the island has received $91 Billion, when in fact it has actually received about $11.2 billion in disaster relief payments since 2017.
This matters because it has led to a political stalemate in Washington.
In addition to aid for Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska, this bill included $600 million to cover six months’ worth of nutritional assistance requested by Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló. But Democrats refused to back the bill because it lacked funds that would protect the island from floods and rebuild its electrical grid.
The result is an impasse between a Congress that wants to assist a U.S. territory in distress and a hostile White House.
Puerto Rico lost nearly 4 percent of its population - 129,848 people between July 2017 and July 2018 — the greatest population drop in the history of the island since the conquistadors.
Yet through all of this one thing that Puerto Rico didn't suffer from was widespread hunger and malnutrition. Until now.
But Puerto Rico's version of SNAP — the acronym is just "NAP" — doesn't automatically adjust. Instead, the federal government just gives Puerto Rico a fixed amount of money each year, and NAP has to make do...
But now, that extra $1.27 billion has run out. Puerto Rico's governor, Ricardo Rosselló, requested an additional $600 billion for the program back in November — enough to keep NAP at its $649-a-month level for another six months. So policymakers had plenty of early warning. But it wasn't until Democrats took control of the House in January that the chamber passed a law approving the additional money.
The Senate has not yet moved.
Nearly a third of households on the island require food assistance.
The typical monthly allotment has fallen back to $410 a month for a family of four. Earlier this month, 676,898 people had already seen their benefits cut by one fourth on average, and the reductions are still spreading.
Trump already has a (racial?) bias against Puerto Rico. He says providing additional disaster funding for Puerto Rico’s food stamp program is “excessive and unnecessary.”
Believe it or not, things are on track to get much worse.
Unlike in the states, where federal Medicaid funding is not capped and the federal share varies based on states’ per capita income, federal funding for Medicaid in the territories is subject to a statutory cap and a fixed federal matching rate. Because of this, Puerto Rico’s Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) is capped at 55 percent when it would be closer to 83 percent if it was calculated similarly to rates set for U.S. states.
...In February 2018, Congress approved additional funding for Puerto Rico through the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA), which provided $4.8 billion for Puerto Rico. These relief funds expire at the end of September 2019, which means that just a few months from now, 900,000 Puerto Rican residents could lose their Medicaid coverage.
Puerto Rico appears to be the leading edge of Trump's Ayn Randian ideology. Not surprisingly, the poor are completely on their own as the government has abandoned them.