Fiscal board: Governor’s health plan offer to retired police won’t fly
By The Star Staff
The Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico has put the brakes on Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia’s plans to allow retired police officers to participate for free in the Vital health insurance plan, calling the initiative “fiscally irresponsible.”
The governor issued a press release on Tuesday which states that all interested retired police officers will be able to participate free of charge in the Vital Plan as of Jan. 1, 2022.
“The Oversight Board acknowledges the importance of providing affordable healthcare coverage to retired police officers that do not yet qualify for Medicare,” the oversight board’s executive director, Natalie Jaresko, wrote in a letter to Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority Director Omar Marrero Díaz. “The Government proposes to fund this expansion of healthcare benefits using funds previously budgeted for Medicaid. However, the Government has made other proposals to utilize these same Medicaid funds in different manners.”
To correct those inconsistencies, the oversight board had requested a revised fiscal plan from the government on Dec. 17.
“At this point, the Oversight Board has not received a revised Fiscal Plan submission from the Government confirming the spending priorities,” the letter stated.
Moreover, the annual recurring expenditure the governor’s proposal represents is still unclear as actuarial projections have not been provided to the oversight board, the letter said.
“The Oversight Board is willing to work with the Government on an affordable proposal,” the board said. “Nevertheless, as much as the Oversight Board is committed to supporting police officers in general, and retired police officers in particular, the Government’s actions in promising a benefit without providing appropriate data and ensuring that it can deliver on that promise is fiscally irresponsible and a violation of PROMESA [the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act],” the board said.
Once the oversight board receives the revised fiscal plan, the letter said, it will be in a position to evaluate the complete list of incremental spending initiatives presented by the governor.
“We continue to be willing to work collaboratively with the Government to identify affordable solutions for the benefit of the people of Puerto Rico,” the board said.