NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio were both in Puerto Rico on Thursday.
Cuomo and many other state leaders attended the annual Somos el Futuro conference, which focuses on the issues facing New York’s Latino residents.
“Puerto Rico’s problems are New York’s problems, and we are going to be there for them 100 percent,” Cuomo said in a statement. “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.”
Accompanied by Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla, Cuomo also announced New York is opening a trade and tourism office in the island nation.
The governor said the new office will promote “mutually beneficial” tourism opportunities and economic ties. It will also boast a shop selling New York products.
New York has more Puerto Rican people than anywhere outside of Puerto Rico, and Cuomo says the two places have long had a “special” relationship.
Later, both Cuomo and de Blasio marched with thousands of demonstrators to support their demand for equal treatment on federal health care.
The demonstrators were protesting the fact that Medicaid reimbursement rates in the island territory are 70 percent lower than on the U.S. mainland, while Medicare reimbursement is 40 percent lower.
Thursday’s appearance by two of New York’s top political figures comes two months after they announced a partnership with the U.S. territory to help it regain its financial footing amid a $72 billion public debt burden.
Nearly 70 percent of Puerto Rico’s population relies on Medicare or Medicaid, and officials warn that potential cuts starting next year could total as much as $3 billion through 2017.
Both Cuomo and de Blasio are expected to return to New York later Thursday.
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