ALBANY - An effort to rivet Washington’s attention to the fiscal crisis of Puerto Rico will begin in New York at a summit meeting in coming weeks.
The severe fiscal and health care problems of Puerto Rico need more immediate action from the Obama administration and Congress, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Thursday at an annual legislative retreat in San Juan.
“Puerto Rico’s problems are New York’s problems, and we are going to be there for them 100 percent,” Cuomo said. “This crisis has been decades in the making, and we will not allow the situation to continue deteriorating simply because of a lack of political will in Washington.”
With Cuomo on his latest trip to the U.S. territory is politically powerful labor leader Dennis Rivera of the 1199 SEIU United Health Care Workers East and a leading Latino and Democratic leader in New York.
“Washington’s callous and discriminatory funding policies have caused an unprecedented health care crisis for the 3.5 million U.S. citizens who live in Puerto Rico,” Rivera said.
“Wait times to receive medical attention have skyrocketed, doctors are leaving the Island, and patients in hospitals are not receiving the care they need due to inadequate staffing,” Rivera said. He called Cuomo’s leadership “critical” for the issue.
Cuomo has assigned New York state workers and resources to help Puerto Rico streamline its health care system, improve energy systems and infrastructure as well as tourism and business technology.
Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro García Padilla said New York’s resources and commitment to get federal aid will help “avert a health care and economic crisis.”
New York is home to the largest number of people of Puerto Rican decent outside the territory and they create an important voting bloc in New York and traditionally for Democrats.