San Juan, Jun 21 (EFE).- Puerto Rico's Health Insurance Administration will disburse $43 million to bolster the Medicaid system, which is threatened by a series of non-payments.
The announcement made on Tuesday puts an end - at least for the moment - to the threat of a partial collapse of Mi Salud ("My Health," in Spanish), as Medicaid is known in Puerto Rico.
The government agency will pay the $43 million to insurer Medical Card Systems, one of the three providers of Mi Salud, which on Monday warned that due to delays in payments it was in danger of being unable to continue to provide assistance to the public.
The accusations of non-payment kept coming as, in turn, the Puerto Rico Hospital Association complained that MCS owes about $50 million to health institutions for patient services.
The threat of collapse spurred the intervention of Finance Secretary Jesus Mendez and the executive director of Puerto Rico's Office of Management and Budget, Juan Carlos Pavia, both of whom agreed to the emergency payment to MCS.
The director of the Health Insurance Administration, Frank Diaz, said that before the end of the month another payment will be made to MCS, which has complained that the government owes it a total of $170 million.
Diaz emphasized that an investigation will be launched to determine if in recent months there has been an increase in the use of health services by Mi Salud members.
He said physicians participating in Mi Salud are demanding a fixed monthly payment, after noting that doctors are - in any event - obligated to provide services to the public.
MCS president Jose Duran said, meanwhile that three months ago he formally notified officials of the difficulty of maintaining the provision of services through Mi Salud.
He said that the problem could be explained by the growing use of the service, which combined with the low premiums allocated to the program and the delays in payments to MCS put the viability of Mi Salud in danger.
The problems in the payment chain have affected users of Mi Salud, who have been complaining that they have received inadequate service caused in part by the lack of - or delay in - care by doctors who are afraid of not receiving payment for the services they provide.
As a result, some doctors have withdrawn their commitment to provide service to Mi Salud beneficiaries.
Mi Salud is due to receive $9 billion in federal Medicaid funding between 2011 and 2019.