SAN JUAN — The U.S. Senate passed Wednesday the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, H.R. 6201, a bill the executive director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA) called “an additional robust response” to the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) and “address the personal safety and financial security of millions of Americans.”
The legislation responds to the outbreak by providing paid sick leave and free testing, expanding food assistance and unemployment benefits, and requiring employers to provide additional protections for health care workers.
The bill includes provisions that provide Puerto Rico access to free testing for Covid-19 and $100 million for emergency supplemental nutrition assistance to Puerto Rico and the territories. Additionally, an increase to the Medicaid program funding cap from $2.6 billion to $2.7 for fiscal year 2020 and from $2.7 billion to $2.8 billion for fiscal 2021, as well as an increase of 6.2 percent in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) on a quarterly basis during the term of the emergency period.
In a statement on behalf of the administration, Executive Director Jennifer M. Storipan thanked senators for their “swift action to ensure that millions of Americans can receive assistance during this heightened time of concern for public health.”
The measure will provide Puerto Rico “much-needed federal assistance as Governor [Wanda] Vázquez Garced continues to take proactive protective measures to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the 3.2 million U.S. citizens who live in during this global emergency,” Storipan said.
“PRFAA will continue to work with Congress, the Administration, and Federal Agencies so that Puerto Rico receives the appropriate federal assistance it deserves; our priority continues to be ensuring the unmet needs of the island are met during this global emergency,” the administration’s press release reads.