Walz Opposes House GOP Legislation to Fund CHIP & CHC at the Expense of Seniors, Children and Vulnerable Minnesotans
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Tim Walz (MN-01) voted against the dangerously partisan H.R. 3922 on the House Floor. At the expense of seniors, children and vulnerable Minnesotans, H.R. 3922 would reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Community Health Center (CHC) funding, among other health programs.
“Today, over a month after Republicans in Congress allowed CHIP funding to expire, Speaker Ryan and House Republicans have yet again chosen to put their party over the wellbeing of American citizens,” said Walz. “Shamefully but not surprisingly, my Republican colleagues are hiding behind millions of children’s health insurance in order to slash Prevention and Public Health funding, increase Medicare premiums, and further sabotage the Affordable Care Act.
CHIP, a bipartisan federal program created in 1997 to help states provide health insurance to low-income populations, covers roughly 9 million children across the nation. Federal funding for the program expired on September 30, 2017 due to congressional inaction.
“While I support the bill’s funding for CHIP, Community Health Centers and other vital health programs, the disgraceful methods by which my Republican colleagues have chosen to pay for such funds are unacceptable,” continued Walz. “House Republicans’ refusal to work together on something as bipartisan and overwhelmingly supported as reauthorizing health coverage for millions of kids is another reminder that they are more interested in going it alone and getting it wrong than working together and getting it right.”
According to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF) – a product of the Affordable Care Act – provides about $17 million to Minnesota every year. These funds go towards public health efforts such as tracking new disease threats, childhood lead poisoning prevention, immunizations, and chronic disease prevention. H.R. 3922’s proposed 57 percent cut to the PPHF, which adds up to a total $6.35 billion reduction from fiscal year (FY) 2016 to FY 2019, could cost Minnesota more than half of its federal investments. As a result, MDH reports Minnesota could lose out on roughly $50 million over the next 5 years.
According to AARP, H.R. 3922 would harm older Americans by unfairly shifting costs onto Medicare beneficiaries in order to offset the cost of CHIP funding. Specifically, H.R. 3922 initiates a new bracket for high-income Medicare beneficiaries that would require these enrollees to pay 100 percent of the Medicare Part B premium and require an increased surcharge for enrolled on their Part D plans.
Nusheen Ameenuddin, MD, MPH, FAAP, a Rochester, MN Pediatrician and member of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), also voiced disappointment in the partisan legislation before the House today:
“As a pediatrician in Minnesota who cares for patients covered by CHIP, I understand the critical need to fund CHIP without delay,” said Ameenuddin. “However, doing so should not come at the expense of other critical public health programs that benefit the very same kids I see every day. I am disappointed that the House bill in its current form does not continue CHIP’s strong bipartisan history. It’s time for Congress to pass a bipartisan, clean, five year extension of CHIP funding without jeopardizing other important child health programs. Minnesota’s children and families are counting on Congress to act.”
On October 5, Walz was joined by Representatives Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum, Rick Nolan, and Collin Peterson in sending a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi urging that bipartisan legislation to reauthorize CHIP be brought to the House Floor for a vote as soon as possible.
The text of the letter and corresponding press release can be found here.
According to the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS), Minnesota utilizes federal CHIP funding to provide health coverage to infants under the age of 2 with income above 275 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) and below 283 percent of the FPL, expecting mothers who are not eligible for Medicaid with income up to 278 percent of the FPL, and children on Medicaid with income above 133 percent of the FPL and below 275 percent of the FPL. In all, approximately 126,900 Minnesotans rely on CHIP, including 200 infants, 1,700 expecting mothers, and 125,000 children.
For more information on CHIP in Minnesota, a Minnesota DHS fact sheet can be found here.