Velázquez Calls for Puerto Ricans to be Covered Under Health Care Reforms
Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.), along with her Puerto Rican colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives, has sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisting that residents of Puerto Rico and the other U.S. territories be fully included in any version of health care reform legislation that comes out of Congress.
The following is the text of their letter to Speaker Pelosi:
July 24, 2009
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Speaker Pelosi:
In the 111th Congress, the most promising effort we have seen in recent history is underway to make health care a reality for the millions of uninsured and under-insured in the United States. As representatives of diverse constituencies, we are prepared and eager to begin debate on this comprehensive health reform legislation. However, there is a real danger that this bill would create two different realities: one for Puerto Rico and the territories, and one for the rest of the country.
Madam Speaker, H.R. 3200, "America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009" may not bring affordable health insurance coverage to Puerto Rico and the territories' 4.5 million U.S. residents. This historic health legislation currently excludes residents of our territories from major initiatives intended to provide affordable access to health insurance. We understand the difficulties our caucus faces in dealing with the health care debate, and Puerto Rico and the territories present a challenge in the midst of addressing the needs of the country as a whole. However, the need for care among these U.S. citizens can not be ignored because they live far away, they are poor, or because it is too expensive.
This serious omission has brought us together insisting that it be addressed before the bill is adopted. We all are extremely supportive of efforts to create health care parity for the people of Puerto Rico. The challenge of bringing affordable health care to the entire nation is a task of enormous complexity and difficulty, and the accomplishment of enacting this historical effort will be due in large part to your strong leadership. However, the true measure of success will be providing affordable coverage for all Americans, no matter where they live.
Regardless of how difficult or tempting it may be to cut the territories out of this health reform, it simply can not happen. It is our moral obligation to provide residents of the U.S. territories with the same opportunities as everyone else. Therefore, we stand together in asking that Puerto Rico be treated as a State and included as part of the health care reform bill, H.R. 3200.