U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio promised Wednesday he will push for increased doctor reimbursements for Medicaid and Medicare as part of a package to bring Puerto Rico federal benefits in line with states.
Rubio, a Republican member of the bi-partisan, bi-cameral Congressional Task Force on Puerto Rico Economic Growth, met with an invited group of 20 Florida-resident Puerto Rican business and political leaders gathered in Orlando to seek suggestions on what the task force should push for from the federal commission overseeing the restricting of the territory’s finances.
There, Rubio promised to back those reforms and others including tax credits to assist the people on the island in dealing with the economic crunch that is near bankrupting the government, straining services and decimating health care options as doctors flee the island. But he did not agree with everything suggested, notably as he defended keeping the 96-year-old Jones Act that regulates shipping to and from the island.
“I’m very confident that is going to be one of the recommendations that we’ll offer,” Rubio said of increasing Medicare payments to doctors so they can be encouraged first to serve Medicare patients and second to not flee the island seeking more money. “And I am hopeful it will make it into the task force’s document.”
The round-table style meeting, which featured Republican state Reps. David Santiago, Rene Plasencia and Bob Cortes, a few representatives of Puerto Rican chambers of commerce and bar associations, and a few other business groups, and former U.S. Surgeon General Antonia Coello Novello, was officially a congressional meeting, not a campaign event.
Rubio is seeking re-election against U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of West Palm Beach. And he later, he acknowledged the importance of the Puerto Rican vote for him, or Murphy, to win Florida. And Rubio contended that he’s worked for six years on Puerto Rican issues, and accused