Puerto Rico religious leaders are urging Congress to reduce child poverty on the island by granting equal access to US health care funding and child tax benefits.
“We are grateful that Congress moved forward a process to restructure the debt,” noted San Juan's Catholic Archbishop Roberto González and Bible Society Head Reverend Heriberto Martínez, in a letter they sent to Congress on August 2nd. “We now encourage you to act on the remaining and related bipartisan proposals from the Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico.”
Last year a Congressional task force made recommendations to reduce child poverty in Puerto Rico. The task force encouraged Congress to pass legislation so that US citizens living in Puerto Rico can access federal programs the same way that US citizens in the US States can access Medicaid, Medicare and the federal Child Tax Credit.
“Federal funding for Puerto Rico’s health care programs should mimic coverage for citizens who live in the States,” said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development organization, Jubilee USA. LeCompte sent a similar letter to Congress last week. “Puerto Rico needs equitable access to federal health care programs and tax credits. These recommendations are essential for reducing poverty for nearly 60% of kids who live in poverty on the island.”
González and Martínez have continually asked Congress to address child poverty on the island and help resolve the island's debt crisis since 2015. The religious leaders have also encouraged Congress to address broader policies that impact financial crisis across the developing world.
“As we continue to work together to resolve Puerto Rico's current crisis, we also want to prevent the next crisis,” continued González and Martínez in their letter to Congress. “We want to prevent financial crises that impact all children in our world and we invite you to also work with us on these broader stewardship and preventive measures.”