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For the second time, Puerto Rico would have left millions of dollars on the table that could help counteract the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on companies on the island.
On this occasion, the money could have helped thousands of healthcare providers, who were forced to close doctor’s offices, laboratories and therapy centers, after the government ordered it because they were not directly related to the coronavirus emergency.
According to a report by the republican delegation in the Means and Excise Committee of the Congress, in a first round, the federal government distributed about $ 30 billion in funds to providers so that they could counterbalance the losses due to the closure of their offices or financially support them if they are in charge of caring for patients affected by the virus.
Of that money, in Puerto Rico, just $ 41.9 million was distributed among some 6,079 suppliers. In Guam, the report says, some 76 providers received, together. $ 8.2 million; and in the US Virgin Islands, another 128 suppliers together received about $ 3.4 million in payments.
Even if The new day found that, in Puerto Rico, there were suppliers that only received payments of tens or hundreds of dollars, a comparative analysis of the law firm McGuire Woods establishes that the average of payments to the provider, in Puerto Rico, would have been around $ 6,800, while in the US Virgin Islands it would reach $ 26,553.
In the Northern Mariana Islands, the average payment was around $ 49,961, and according to McGuire Woods in Guam, the average payment reached about $ 108,112.
In part, the discrepancy in payments to suppliers in Puerto Rico is explained because the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) federal relief has been granted using as reference information provided by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, and in Puerto Rico, most patients are treated under the Advantage program.
Until now, the government’s concern has focused on the financial condition of the hospitals and trying to ensure that these entities have access to the Cares law, but the rest of the providers would have been left without support.
However, the president of MCS Advantage, Roberto Pando, raised a voice of alert when he stated that most of the health providers in Puerto Rico may be eligible for the program and, apparently, the information is unknown.
A little over a week ago, The new day revealed that Puerto Rico also fell behind, in the first round, in the Paycheck Protection Program loans of the Small Business Administration (SBA, in English).
“Puerto Rico has money available that it is not receiving,” Pando stressed.
The executive, who also warned of the possible loss of about $ 500 million in the Vital plan this year – unless the government completes the plans that are required of it by the federal government -, maintained that Puerto Rico received a portion of HHS’s first assignment under the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) program. But he regretted that providers are not requesting available resources.
Yesterday, The new day outlined that thousands of health providers on the island have been forced to fire their staff and, even, they are insolvent. This is because the forced closure and the government order to suspend “elective” health procedures have left private providers without patients.
According to Pando, providers on the island could see considerable relief through the PRF, considering that Puerto Rico receives some $ 6 billion in funds annually under Medicare and Medicare Advantage.
“The distribution is based on total billing,” added the executive, stating that providers on the island must complete the request with the federal Department of Health.
In total, according to HHS, under Cares about $ 50 billion was set aside for the PRF. After the initial distribution of $ 30,000 million, another $ 20,000 is pending and is now in the distribution process.
HHS will make the additional payments considering the billed services (or FFS) that the biller offered during the years 2019 or 2018, but this depends on the provider completing the request.