Para ver esta página en español, oprima aquí.

Public Healthcare & Schools Need Improvement

NPP Questions Blue Ribbon’s Transparency

Vieques Land Discussed In D.C.

Bayamon Mayor Backs Jeb

Federal Childcare Benefits Increased

NPP Leaders Booked On Rioting Charges

Prosecutor Claims To Have Strong Evidence

Public Healthcare Way Below Medicaid Acceptable Standards

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin

July 4, 2002
Copyright ©2002
WOW News. All rights reserved.

According to an evaluation commissioned by the local Health Department, the standards of public healthcare services offered in Puerto Rico to health reform patients are way below those offered under Medicaid in the U.S. mainland.

The Health Department revealed that only 39% of female health reform patients are tested for breast cancer, 32% for cervical cancer, compared to 55% and 58%, respectively, under Medicaid.

The study also reveals that there is a higher rate of diabetes among health reform patients than in privately insured individuals—that is 6.2% vs. 4.7%—and that kidney failure is three times higher among health reform patients than privately insured patients.

"These findings present the need, and at the same time the opportunity, for healthcare insurers to improve the evaluated areas. At the same time, they help give us a map of the actual health situation so that we can work toward achieving our goals for 2010," Health Secretary Johnny Rullan said during a press conference Wednesday.

Rullan said the goal for 2010 is to have 70% of health reform patients tested for breast cancer and 90% for cervical cancer.

The study was conducted by the Health Plan Employer Data Information Set (Hedis), and it used the data from 2000, gathered by participating health reform insurers, which at that time, were Humana, Cruz Azul, and Triple C. MCS was not included, since it joined the reform in that year. By the end of the past fiscal year, which ended June 30, Cruz Azul was excluded from the reform.

The study was focused on preventive healthcare, regarding testing for cervical and breast cancer, as well as preventive testing for diabetes.

Rullan said the government also hired Quality Improvement Professional Research Organization (Quipro) to monitor the incidence of diabetes and asthma in Puerto Rico.

According to the findings, patient records aren’t well documented, fewer than 10% of asthma patients have been properly classified according to the seriousness of their condition, and the mortality rate from asthma in Puerto Rico is three times higher than in the U.S. mainland.

"This is something that is unacceptable. We need to make sure that asthma patients are properly classified so that they can receive adequate treatment," Rullan said.

Rullan added that as far as economy is concerned, in the long run, it is cheaper for healthcare providers to give the right kind of treatment on time, than to pay for hospitalization and surgery.

Meanwhile, only Triple C scored high in providing preventive healthcare to diabetes patients on the island, such as hemoglobin, eye, and feet testing, as well as in identifying risk factors, such as obesity and smoking.

The Health chief attributed this to the fact that Triple C has established a disease management program that has helped health practitioners give better treatment to patients, so as to prevent health conditions such as diabetes and asthma reaching critical stages that may require surgical intervention or hospitalization or even lead to death.

"Some of the strategies that health insurers should explore are to develop aggressive outreach programs to empower patients, to insist that healthcare providers keep well documented files, and to increase the proportion of patients who participate in effective disease management programs," Rullan said.

Although Health Insurance Administration Executive Director Orlando Gonzalez had said the three-year contract that has been signed with the current health reform insurers—Triple C, Humana, and MCS—includes clauses that would allow the government to cancel the contract if they don’t comply with standards, he said that would be the last choice, since fines are also a way to force insurers to comply.

Meanwhile, Rullan said since this is the first time this sort of evaluation has been conducted, the department won’t grade health reform insurers now, but will do so next year.

NPP Questions Blue Ribbon’s Transparency

July 3, 2002
Copyright ©2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — The New Progressive Party (NPP) censored Wednesday Blue Ribbon President David Noriega’s refusal to present the financial reports requested by law to public officials and challenged him to practice the transparency affirmed by committee members.

NPP Interim General Secretary Sylvia Maisonet Diaz said Noriega is continuously boasting of being the only decent Puerto Rican and claims to be the people’s prosecutor, but hides information of his financial status and professional contracts from the people.

Maisonet Diaz said if Noriega has nothing to hide in his private businesses, he should present the financial reports as every other public official does.

The NPP official asked the Commonwealth comptroller and the Governmental Ethics Office (GEO) to not be intimidated by Noriega’s attacks and to continue doing their job.

Noriega, who presides over the Independent Citizens Committee to Evaluate Government Transactions, announced Tuesday that he will challenge the GEO’s decision establishing that committee members are obliged to present their financial reports.

Future Of Vieques Land Discussed In Washington

July 3, 2002
Copyright ©2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Justice Secretary Anabelle Rodriguez and the Quality Environmental Board Esteban Mujica met on Monday with U.S. Interior Department officials in Washington to discuss the future use of 3,100 acres at the west end of the Vieques island, which will remain under federal jurisdiction.

Rodriguez proposed that any plan to develop the zone should allow the public use of the beaches, and should also take into account the Vieques residents opinion.

According to published reports, the secretary is trying to obtain a shared jurisdiction on the 3,100 acres.

However, the shared administration was not discussed.

A law approved under former President Bill Clinton administration allowed the transfer of 4,100 acres in Vieques to the municipality, which used to be U.S. Navy land. The U.S. Interior Department obtained the title of 3,100 acres and the Puerto Rico Conservation obtained the ownership of 800 acres.

Bayamon Mayor Backs Bush

July 3, 2002
Copyright ©2002 ORLANDO SENTINEL. All rights reserved.

KISSIMMEE -- The mayor of Puerto Rico's second-largest city was in Kissimmee on Tuesday to announce his support of Jeb Bush's re-election campaign as well as two local Puerto Rican candidates for office.

Mayor Ramón Luis Rivera, of Bayamón, participated in a small luncheon at the Signature by the Lake restaurant in downtown Kissimmee during which he talked of his support for Bush; Republican Anthony Suarez, a candidate for state Senate District 14; and John P. Quiñones, a Democratic candidate for state House District 49.

Rivera said he supported Suarez and Quiñones as a way to promote a better business and cultural relationship between Puerto Rico and Central Florida, where more than 200,000 Puerto Ricans reside.

Also on hand was Héctor O'Neill, mayor of the island city of Guaynabo. Bayamón and Guaynabo are just outside of the capital of San Juan.

Federal Childcare Benefits Increased

By Proviana Colon Diaz

July 3, 2002
Copyright ©2002 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

Resident Commissioner Acevedo Vila announced that the U.S. Congress has approved a $10 million increase for childcare programs aimed at helping families in the process of getting jobs. As a result, the island will be receiving $2.7 million in childcare benefits.

"This means the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico government will receive a 16% increase in the annual amount assigned for childcare. The number of families benefiting from the program could increase from 11,000 to 16,000," Acevedo Vila said.

Acevedo Vila made his statements during a House Federal and International Affairs Committee public hearing on a resolution filed by Chairman Hector Ferrer to investigate the funds received through the Nutritional Assistance Program (PAN) and the Temporary Assistance Need Fund (TANF) welfare programs, as well as the impact of the social welfare reform on the island’s municipalities.

"Dependency on federal funds, could and should be fought with another instrument. We have the unique opportunity to insert ourselves in the world economy by means of the Port of the Americas project with a terrific chance to create thousands of jobs," said Ponce mayor Rafael Cordero Santiago.

Family Department Deputy Secretary Marta Elsa Fernandez agreed with Cordero in that social welfare reform should be analyzed within the context of the Puerto Rican nationality.

Fernandez explained that most people who no longer qualify for TANF are still unemployed when the benefits are over, making it difficult for the dependency from PAN to be over.

In light of this situation the Family Department is evaluating changes in the way it offers job opportunities to dependent clients, Fernandez said.

NPP Leaders Booked On Rioting Charges

July 2, 2002
Copyright ©2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera and three other party leaders walked out of the General Police Office Building in Hato Rey on Tuesday after being booked for the first time ever on criminal charges.

"I have been booked for defending our U.S. citizenship. That American citizenship which we all cherish has been put in jeopardy by this administration. However, Gov. Calderon has been booked by the people for her inefficiency, her arrogance, for persecuting the opposition, and for dragging Puerto Rico into the worse economic crisis in the past 40 years," said Pesquera.

The NPP president, NPP Electoral Commissioner Thomas Rivera Schatz, and former NPP Reps. Leo Diaz and Edwin Mundo reiterated their stance that they have done nothing wrong and that justice will be on their side on Aug. 27, when the preliminary hearing has been scheduled to decide if the four will be tried for the violent incidents that took place at the Women’s Advocate Office on June 20.

"I am sure that the cases against us will be completely dismissed in the preliminary hearing. However, the case against Gov. Calderon has been adjudicated by the people who know this is an attempt to divert the public’s attention from pressing issues in Puerto Rico," Pesquera added.

Meanwhile, Police Superintendent Miguel Pereira said neither Pesquera’s file photo, nor those of the other three NPP leaders would be released to the press, regardless of the claims of several reporters that the photos should be available to the media.

Pereira explained that unless an arrested individual poses a threat to society, the police will not release his or her picture because to do otherwise would violate that citizen’s right to privacy.

"The right to privacy and the expressions that the Puerto Rico Supreme Court has made until now protect citizen’s from having their police file photo published in the press at this stage of the process. [Pesquera] hasn’t been accused of anything," said Pereira.

On another note, Pesquera refused to speculate if he would remain the NPP gubernatorial candidate for 2004 should he be tried and convicted of rioting, as he doesn’t consider that possibility at all likely.

"I am the president of the NPP and frankly, there is no reason why we should be discussing this issue," Pesquera said.

He held fast to his belief that it is the government of Puerto Rico that has been unreasonable not he or his team. He insists their constitutional rights were violated when they were denied access to a public building.

Meanwhile, Rivera Schatz and Mundo each defended Pesquera by criticizing the Calderon Administration’s moral standing.

"The government that’s accusing me today is the same government that has fired public employees for being NPP affiliates. It is the same government that gives immunity to Emilio Rivera Class. It is the government of a House majority leader who forges the signatures of other legislators. It is a government that knows only how to persecute and harass the opposition," Schatz noted.

Mundo also refused to admit that they could have avoided this situation by protesting outside the Women’s Advocate Office instead of forcing their way into the building.

"We didn’t go there to protest. We went there to hoist a flag, and they were the ones who [later] opened the door," Mundo said.

By midday Tuesday, the traffic flow on Roosevelt Avenue in front of the Police General Building slowed, requiring the help of several police officers to relieve the traffic congestion.

Pesquera, Schatz, Mundo, and Diaz were applauded on their way in and out of the building by some of their sympathizers, although not many people gathered there.

Prosecutor Claims To Have Strong Evidence Against NPP

July 2, 2002
Copyright ©2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — San Juan Superior Court Prosecutor Jose Capo said he has strong evidence to sustain the charges against New Progressive Party (NPP) leaders who were accused of triggering the riot that took place at the Women’s Advocate Office.

Capo also said he is evaluating the rest of the evidence that wasn’t presented in court Friday, to determine if he will appeal the court’s decision so that NPP leaders are charged of restriction of freedom, aggravated assault, and damage to public property.

According to published reports, the prosecutor will have 60 days to make a decision.

Capo defended his performance as a state prosecutor despite being criticized for presenting a weak case that drove Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Linares to drop all but one of the charges filed against NPP President Carlos Pesquera, former House Vice President Edwin Mundo, NPP Electoral Commissioner Tomas Rivera Schatz, former NPP Rep. Leo Diaz, and private citizen Peter Muller.

Self-Determination Legislation | Puerto Rico Herald Home
Newsstand | Puerto Rico | U.S. Government | Archives
Search | Mailing List | Contact Us | Feedback