On behalf of the 12.5 million working people represented by the AFL-CIO, I urge you to vote against the CHAMPIONING HEALTHY KIDS Act (H.R. 3922). While this bill extends crucial funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Community Health Centers, it unnecessarily slashes support for other health programs that benefit working families.
H.R. 3922 contains provisions to extend CHIP’s coverage of 8 million children, to continue funding for community health centers, and to postpone reductions in Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments that help fund care for lower-income individuals. These provisions have garnered bipartisan support, and congressional action is overdue as substantial funding for CHIP and the health centers ended in September.
Until recently, both CHIP and the community health centers programs have enjoyed wide support and extending the programs has been uncontroversial. Unfortunately, the Republican majority in the House appears intent on holding the programs hostage in order to force Democrats to vote against other health care programs they have traditionally championed.
Republican leadership has decided that an extension of vital health programs must be paired with devastating cuts to other programs. H.R. 3922 would cause up to 500,000 people to lose their health coverage by shortening the grace period for payment of premiums for Affordable Care Act plans from 90 days to 30 days. It would impose a $10.5 billion cut to the Prevention and Public Health Fund, ending prevention programs throughout the country that keep people healthy. It would also undermine public support for the Medicare program by expanding the means-testing of benefits, requiring wealthier seniors to pay higher premiums for their coverage despite the fact that during their working years they already paid more in Medicare payroll taxes than was contributed by lower-income earners.
The majority should put aside this partisan exercise, which threatens to deny thousands of working Americans access to health care, and instead focus on advancing legislation to preserve CHIP and the community health center program without harming working families in the process.
William Samuel, Director
Government Affairs Department