>> In Puerto Rico the doctor will see you. But you might have to wait a year or two.>> I'm Robbin Resbow in San Juan, I'm here speaking with doctors and patients, who've seen the health care system reach new lows as the island deals with an unprecedented budget crisis.
Doctors are leaving the U.S. territory in droves with ads luring them stateside promising higher salaries. More than a third of the island's doctors moved away in the last decade putting a major strain on patient care with specialists hit the hardest. Karen Garcia's seven year old son Luis has cerebral palsy.
When Luis had a seizure his Doctor recommended that he see a pediatric neurologist. But with so few left and even fewer who accept Medicaid. They could either wait to see a doctor booked for the next year and a half or move to the states. There are about ten pediatric neurologists remaining here and the problem is widespread.
There are four geneticists, 90 obstetricians who deliver babies and on an island with half a million diabetics, there are less than 60 endocrinologists left to treat them.>> For years, the Puerto Rican government here has funded much of its Medicaid program by taking on more and more debt.
That's a big part of why the island is on the brink of financial disaster. An estimated one-third of the island's massive $72 billion of outstanding debt stems from healthcare costs. For cardiovascular surgeon Ivan Gonzales, that's brought an unwelcome new trend. He says 20% of his claims now go unpaid and with the onset of Zika in Puerto Rico.
There's even more stress on a system that's already on life support. While Obama care offered one-time rescue funding for Puerto Rico. The money will likely run out next year with islanders anxiously bracing for what they've taken to calling the Medicaid cliff.