SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico's governor met on Friday with the U.S. treasury and health secretaries to seek support in pulling the island out of a deep economic crisis.
Gov. Ricardo Rossello traveled to Washington, D.C. to talk in part with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin about how the federal office could help transform the U.S. territory's economy. Mnuchin also spoke by phone with the chair of a federal control board created by U.S. Congress last year to oversee Puerto Rico's finances.
Mnuchin said in a statement that he was familiar with Puerto Rico's ongoing economic challenges and urged Rossello's administration to work with the board. It is unclear what kind of relationship the Department of Treasury will develop with Rossello under U.S. President Donald Trump. The previous treasury secretary under former President Barack Obama worked closely with Puerto Rico government officials and was key in developing a financial package that led to development of the board.
Rossello also met with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price over concerns about dwindling Medicaid funds, noting that Puerto Rico stands to lose about $1 billion in federal health care funding by year's end.
Rossello also said he wants to know how Puerto Rico will fit into Trump's vision for a new health care model.
The meetings come just days before Rossello is required to submit a 10-year fiscal plan to a federal control board that is expected to contain painful austerity measures. Puerto Rico is mired in a decade-long economic slump and trying to restructure nearly $70 billion in public debt.