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On Monday, March 27, 2017, Chair of the Committee on Health, Hospitals, and Human Services, Senator Nereida Rivera-O’Reilly, held a meeting with the members of the Committee on Health, Hospitals, and Human Services, the Department of Human Services (DHS), Department of Health, leadership of the Juan F. Luis Hospital and Medical Center (JFL) and American Cancer Society, as well as key, front-line personnel of the Women’s Suite at JFL to discuss cancer patient follow-up procedure and protocol. Stakeholders also discussed Medicaid eligibility and referrals.

An important benefit under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is access to care for women in the territory, under the age of 65, regardless of income, who are diagnosed with either breast, or cervical cancer. Despite the Medical Assistance Program’s expansion, staffing was not readjusted to accommodate the additional responsibilities to include an increase in applications. The division has incorporated in the 2018 Fiscal Year Budget new salaries to bring on employees to fill these gaps.

Members of the Committee on Health, Hospitals, and Human Services stressed that these issues need to be addressed, as they are costing the territory federal dollars and impeding access to care to residents who seek health services. According to the administrator, MAP is embarking on an education awareness initiative campaign, as well as is working on a handbook to include alternative care options for Medicaid patients.

Senator Rivera-O’Reilly is keen on ensuring that residents, especially those who are indigent and uninsured, have access to quality health care. A series of town hall meetings will begin in April to allow constituents to share concerns and ideas on healthcare reform and other related legislation.