SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello met on Wednesday with US Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, who demanded fair treatment for the Caribbean island in terms of disaster aid supplied in the wake of hurricanes, federal tax reform and Medicaid funds.
In a statement, Rossello thanked the two lawmakers for their “leadership” and for being “champions of Puerto Rico” in the US Congress. He said that the trio discussed the need for the island to be treated fairly when federal funds are allocated for various tasks.
The Democratic senators were in agreement, according to the communique, in that the US Congress needs to attend to Puerto Rico’s urgent needs and allocate enough funds for post-hurricane reconstruction, at the same time that the island’s case vis-a-vis federal tax reform and the allocation of Medicaid funding must also be fairly attended to.
Blumenthal said that he and Murphy were in the US Commonwealth because “we’re going to fight for Puerto Rico,” adding his admiration for Rossello’s leadership.
Murphy, in turn, said that supplementary disaster aid must be found to respond to the island’s needs, adding that Puerto Rico needs to be treated like the rest of the US regarding Medicaid funding and it must be made a priority.
During their visit, the senators also toured the University of Puerto Rico’s Federico Trilla Hospital in Carolina to learn the facility’s needs and the measures it has taken to continue providing services to patients during and after the emergency created by the devastating passage of Hurricane Maria.
UPR vice president Ilka Rios said that the hospital sustained damage exceeding $2.5 million in the storm and had to buy a $750,000 generator to continue providing services, especially kidney dialysis and oxygen treatment.
She added that UPR authorities were confident that the Federal Emergency Management Agency would reimburse the university for costs not covered by its insurance.
During their visit, the senators also were able to speak with the head of the UPR Board of Governors, Luis Berrios, and with the director of the Emergency Medicine Department, Juan Gonzalez.
Blumenthal and Murphy also visited the Caño Martin Peña in San Juan, where they were able to directly learn about the conditions and needs of the local community after Hurricane Maria.