President Trump reportedly intervened to slash billions of dollars worth of Medicaid funding the federal government was preparing to allocate to Puerto Rico as part of a larger government spending deal, a move the White House hailed as a “win,” reports Politico.
Lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Finance Committee had backed legislation that would send about $12 billion in Medicaid funds to Puerto Rico over a four-year time frame as part of a new $1.4 trillion spending package, Politico reported on Tuesday, citing four sources familiar with the situation.
But Trump took issue with the amount, complaining it was too much, three sources told the news outlet.
“Lawmakers on Monday then unveiled a spending package allocating up to $5.7 billion in Medicaid funds for the island over two years,” The Hill reports. “The House overwhelmingly passed the spending package the legislation was included in on Tuesday. It now heads to the Senate.”
A White House spokesperson told Politico that the Puerto Rico Medicaid funding agreement was a “win for President Trump and the American people.”
Chase Jennings, a spokesman for the White House Office of Management and Budget, also told Politico that the final deal represented the administration’s commitment to “properly prioritizing U.S. taxpayer dollars.”
“With the historical waste we have faced in Puerto Rico, additional funding was not needed or fiscally responsible,” Jennings said.
The Hill reports:
Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program, which cover more than 1 million low-income people, has reportedly been relying on short-term funding extensions since the fall of this year. Its latest series of funding installments is set to expire on Friday.
Congress has meanwhile been pushing for stronger measures to block inappropriate spending and monitor the territory’s contracting practices in the wake of a corruption scandal involving a former Puerto Rican health administration official.
Politico noted that funding negotiations for the U.S. territory have been especially fraught in light of political turmoil and the aftermath of destructive hurricanes. Trump has repeatedly targeted the territory, calling it one of the “most corrupt places on earth” in August. He has also continually denounced its politicians as “crooked” and “incompetent.”