LULAC Urges Lawmakers to Support Federal Budget Parity for Puerto Rico Human Services
Nation’s Oldest and Largest Latino Civil Rights Organization Calls Safety Net Vital to the Health and Well-Being of Millions
Washington, DC - The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is calling on members of Congress to work with the Biden Administration to ensure that Puerto Rico is allocated its fair share of federal funding in the 2022 budget. The allocation is vital to critical social programs that deliver essential safety net services its residents urgently need.
“We’re speaking literally about life and death decisions that members of the United States Congress will be making affecting the people of Puerto Rico,” says Elsie Valdes-Ramos. She is a lifelong resident of the island and LULAC National Board Member who is Vice-President for Women. “We are out in the communities daily and see the unimaginable suffering of families languishing without adequate nourishment, access to quality health care and even lack of safe drinking water or dwellings in disrepair from natural disasters. The shame of it is that we are United States citizens having to endure the conditions of emerging countries and this is unacceptable,” she adds.
President Biden is now proposing changes to three important safety net programs to help alleviate Puerto Rico’s dire conditions. First, the new budget would eliminate caps on Medicaid funding to bring its program on the island territory into alignment with that of states. Also, the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are in serious need of expansion. SSI is entangled in a Supreme Court case and SNAP may have to wait until the next farm bill quinquennial in 2023. However, a decision on the Medicaid funding must be reached before September 30, when the present funding runs out.
“There is a significant difference between receiving an annual $360-million block grant versus $2.8 to $3.0 billion in federal funding; that is what is at stake here,” says Domingo Garcia, LULAC National President. “LULAC supports parity because nearly 1-in-2 people in Puerto Rico are living below the poverty line and Medicaid currently helps 1.4 million people. If we don’t get action on this funding issue now, 800,000 men, women and children will lose their safety net services. We can’t afford to wait,” adds Garcia.
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 1,000 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit https://lulac.org/