Since Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico in September 2017, the majority of residents have been adjusting to life in the aftermath. For the approximate 30% of residents in rural areas, the major adjustment has been living without electric power and the ability to access to medical facilities. Individuals with injuries and storm-related health problems and chronic medical conditions and those in need of refills or new prescriptions are unable to visit a local clinic, hospital or doctor’s office.
Because there still remains a lack of electricity and random power outages. This makes living in the region even more difficult. Now there’s a saving grace, thanks to InnovaCare Health adding a much needed medical clinic to an existing storefront. The clinic is located in the capital city of San Juan, inside the Plaza Las America, a central neighborhood shopping center. The neighborhood, Hato Rey plays an important role as a chief financial district.
InnovaCare Health is headquartered in New Jersey, and it offers more than 7,500 network physicians and specialized health plans through Medicare Advantage. It provides healthcare coverage to over 200,000 members. The new clinic is operated by a subsidiary of the company. When the storefront first opened it was only meant to serve as a charging station; a place where residents without power could visit and recharge their batteries. Prior to the hurricane, InnovaCare Health executives, lead by Rick Shinto, Chief Executive Officer and President and Penelope Kokkinides, the Chief Operating Officer already acknowledged the challenging healthcare needs of the people of Puerto Rico and offered them affordable coverage solutions through Medicare and Medicaid.
In 2017, Penelope Kokkinides met with President Trump to discuss the continuing need to extend the healthcare options to Puerto Rico. Kokkinides along with the Administrator for Medicaid and Medicare Services, Seema Verma sought approval from the President for expanded federal funding to the US territory. The fear was that due to the impact of the hurricane, the program could run out of money. Both Kokkinides and Verma were advocating for increased subsidized payments to further assist with recovery efforts. In Puerto Rico, InnovaCare Health offers broad coverage options, which includes a government-subsidized plan and coordinated care plans. The meeting with President Trump yielded somewhat favorable results, as it called for a reversal of the 2011 legislative cuts which reduced funding as part of the President, Barack Obama’s health care budget reform.