Pallone Floor Remarks on CHIP & Community Health Centers

Nov 6, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) delivered the following remarks on the House Floor this morning during consideration of H.R. 3922. Republicans are demanding cuts to Medicare and the Affordable Care Act to reauthorize the CHIP and funding for community health centers. The cuts to the Prevention and Public Health Fund in H.R. 3922 would cost New Jersey $5,000,000 this year and more than $32,000,000 from 2019-2023.

The partisan proposal jeopardizes the health care of more than 230,000 New Jersey children enrolled in CHIP annually, and the 23 federally-funded Community Health Center organizations in New Jersey with a combined 142 delivery sites.  New Jersey receives $462.9 million to fund its CHIP program. 

The video of his remarks can be found here.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak in opposition to H.R. 3922 – a partisan bill to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program, – or CHIP – Community Health Centers and other public health programs. 

It pains me to be here today because this should NOT be a partisan bill.   I have tried for months to negotiate with Republicans to develop a bipartisan compromise.    But House Republicans chose to spend the first nine months of this year trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  They failed, but now House Republicans are using the reauthorization of CHIP and Community Health Centers as a way to once again sabotage the ACA.

Make no mistake, if Republicans can’t repeal the ACA outright, they’ll cripple it anytime they can. This time, Republicans are risking the health care of nearly 9 million children, and the care of families all around the country that use Community Health Centers.  They are risking that care because this partisan bill has no chance at ever becoming law.  By taking this route, Republicans are guaranteeing that CHIP and Community Health Centers will not reauthorized until the end of the year.  That’s extremely unfortunate.  

Mr. Speaker, I strongly support CHIP, our Community Health Centers, and all of our public health programs that are extended in this bill. These programs have traditionally been bipartisan. But, the bill before us extends these programs by taking billions of dollars away from the Affordable Care Act, and undermining Medicare.

In short, this Republican bill offers a false choice.  In one hand it strips health care away from upwards of 680-thousand Americans and guts the Prevention Fund, which pays for immunizations and vaccines, lead poisoning prevention, opioid treatment, and many other important programs.  And then in the other hand it reauthorizes these important programs.  Democrats strongly support reauthorization of these programs --- but we reject the way Republicans are paying for them.

Mr. Speaker there are so many other policies that save money—countless alternatives that Democrats have offered to Republicans for months.

Earlier this week, I offered an alternative that would have provided a robust reauthorization and extension of these important programs, and it was paid for in a commonsense way.  My alternative would have changed the timing of payments to Medicare Advantage Plans.  This approach was recommended by both the GAO and the Office of the Inspector General, but Republicans rejected it in the Rules Committee.  They wouldn’t even allow it to come before the full House. 

Why? They would rather use reauthorization of CHIP and Community Health Centers as another way to sabotage the ACA. I simply reject that approach, and strongly urge a no vote.