Governor urged to lobby Congress to keep health professionals on the island
By The Star Staff
Puerto Rico Hospital Association President Jaime Plá Cortés on Thursday asked Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia to help lobby Congress for $500 million in Medicaid funds to improve compensation for health professionals in Puerto Rico to minimize professional flight from the island.
“In Puerto Rico, there are some very special challenges, especially with what has to do with salaries to the staff of hospitals, of healthcare sites,” Plá Cortés told the press during the Hospital Association convention. “And the request is that we achieve that from funds that come in, money is allocated specifically to be able to attend to the improvement of what is paid to nurses, technologists, rehabilitation people and doctors, so that they can stay in Puerto Rico.”
“I know it’s a lower wage than in the U.S. and that creates an unequal competition problem with the U.S. for us,” he added. “And to the extent that we have more money, then there is a possibility that wages will improve. What happens is that in the last federal contribution, $200 million was allocated that went directly to the providers and what I am asking is that we double it so that the increases are more significant and that, for example, doctors can have 100% reimbursement, that nurses can be paid more than what is being paid now, that emergency and operating room technicians can be paid more.”
Pierluisi said he had no objection to the request.
“In the future, I have no qualms about there being specific, similar or equal appropriation,” the governor said, noting that recent changes in the hiring of providers for the Vital Plan, the government-backed health plan, added requirements to insurers that improve the compensation of health workers.