McCollum Statement Opposing H.R. 3922, CHAMPION Act
Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the Community Health and Medical Professionals Improve Our Nation (CHAMPION) Act of 2017 (H.R. 3922).
While I support reauthorizing funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), and various other important public health programs, I oppose this bill because it cuts funding for public health, puts families at risk of losing their health insurance, and weakens Medicare.
The health of children and expecting and new mothers is something that we can all agree on. In my home state of Minnesota, CHIP funding is essential for providing healthcare to125,000 low income children and 1,700 expecting and new mothers. Minnesota also depends on FQHC funding with over 190,000 people receiving care from one of the more than 70 community health centers in my state last year.
Unfortunately, House Republicans have turned these bipartisan issues into an opportunity to divide us. The offsets included in this legislation are unacceptable to me and to Minnesota families.
Once again, Republicans are using this legislation as yet another opportunity to weaken the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by cutting $6.35 billion from the Prevention and Public Health Fund over the next ten years. This fund, created by the ACA, directly funds our nation’s prevention, preparedness, and response capabilities.
If these Republican cuts become law, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would be forced to provide less funding to cities, states, and tribes to rapidly address public health crises. This money includes funding for vaccines, flu prevention, and addressing the opioid epidemic. When my home state of Minnesota had to recently deal with a serious outbreak of measles, our community health officials utilized these federal resources to rapidly contain the spread of disease. Simply put, this irresponsible offset leaves American communities more vulnerable to, and unprepared for, outbreaks of disease.
In addition, this bill takes aim at yet another ACA provision by shortening the 90-day grace period for individuals to pay premiums before their insurer can terminate their coverage. The current grace period allows low and moderate income families experiencing temporary financial difficulties to remain covered by their health insurance. Shortening this grace period from 90 days to 30 days would cause nearly 700,000 Americans to lose their health care and bars them from purchasing health insurance until the next season.
I am also concerned by the provision that introduces means testing to Medicare. A key strength of Medicare is its universal nature. All Americans pay into Medicare and all Americans should receive at least some benefit from it. This provision breaks that guarantee and sets a dangerous precedent for the future. I am also concerned that it could weaken the Medicare risk pool and increase costs for the taxpayer.
Mr. Speaker, even the Majority concedes that this bill is unlikely to pass the Senate due to the partisan nature of its provisions. Republicans need to stop playing games and reauthorize these programs before Minnesota faces a critical December 1 deadline to continue coverage for children and expecting mothers.
I urge my colleagues to vote against this measure and instead to work together to fund CHIP and community health centers.
I yield back.