September 23,2019

Grassley receives more questions than answers from CMS on Puerto Rico Medicaid program

WASHINGTON – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) received a response from Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma to a July 17, 2019 letter he sent with several committee Republicans.

Grassley’s original letter sought information on how much Puerto Rico receives in Medicaid funding, what processes, if any, are in place to reduce waste fraud and abuse of federal dollars allocated to its Medicaid program and what timelines are in place for Puerto Rico to implement transparency processes in the program.

“Oversight of Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program is a duty of the Senate Finance Committee that I take very seriously, even more so given the disarray in the Puerto Rican government,” Grassley said. “Longer-term discussions have been ongoing, and as I’ve been reviewing the statements made by Puerto Rican officials and new data from HHS, there are inconsistencies that need more explanations. There are proposals on Capitol Hill to raise the federal matching rate significantly for Puerto Rico, but Congress must have a thorough and serious discussion before enacting such policies. It’s my goal to provide Medicaid beneficiaries the help they need while holding the government accountable as stewards of the program.”

The statutory federal matching rate for Puerto Rico is 55 percent. However, the response letter from CMS shows that the effective matching rate is much higher. Letters and conversations with the Puerto Rican government have only mentioned the 55 percent rate. If the rate is higher, Congress and taxpayers deserve to know why. Grassley intends to follow up with CMS on this and other issues.

Text of Grassley’s July 17, 2019 letter is available HERE. Text of the response letter from HHS is available HERE.