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Power cut at 2 Puerto Rico cancer clinics amid unpaid bills

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico’s heavily indebted power company on Wednesday cut electricity at two cancer clinics because of unpaid bills.

The Electric Power Authority said it previously sent several warnings to the two clinics located in Ponce, which is Puerto Rico’s second largest city and located along the island’s southern coast.

Officials said they cut power after ensuring there were no patients currently hospitalized or receiving treatment at the Oncological Clinic and the Puerto Rico Foundation of Cancer and Health. The power company declined to provide further details including how much money it’s owed because the clinics are private.

“As soon as the clients pay their debts, their electrical service will be restored,” said the power company, which is $9 billion in debt and preparing for a restructuring.

It is the latest power shutdown at a health care facility in Puerto Rico amid a government-wide crackdown to collect money owed during a decade-long economic crisis.

In March, the company cut power at a hospital in the southern coastal town of Guayama that owed $4 million. A court later ordered the company to temporarily restore power.

The company has reached deals involving payment plans with other health care facilities that faced power cutoffs in recent months.

U.S. Congress recently approved a rescue package for Puerto Rico, which has $68 billion in public debt that the governor has said is unpayable and needs restructuring. The economic crisis has prompted the government to take measures including increasing utility rates to help generate more revenue. Power bills in Puerto Rico are on average twice those in the U.S. mainland because of the island’s heavy reliance on petroleum to generate energy.

 

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