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McKeon votes for 'Helping Sick Americans Now Act'

Posted: April 24, 2013 2:52 p.m.
Updated: April 24, 2013 2:52 p.m.

Washington, D.C.- Today, Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon voted for H.R. 1549, The Helping Sick Americans Now Act.  This legislation transfers $4 billion from the Obamacare slush fund to help the sickest patients with pre-existing conditions get coverage through the end of the year.

Under Obamacare, a federal and state high-risk pool program (known as the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, or PCIP) was created to provide coverage for vulnerable individuals with pre-existing conditions.  On February 15, 2013, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced they were closing enrollment in the PCIP due to funding constraints. 

Obamacare also established the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF), a slush fund originally intended to increase funding for prevention and public health activities.  The PPHF is controlled by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Unfortunately, the PPHF has been wrought with fraud and abuse since its inception.  The PPHF has funded projects such as pet neutering campaigns, the enactment of fast food density laws and the lobbying efforts to exact soda, sugar and tobacco taxes.  Additionally, the slush fund is currently being used to fund and implement other provisions of Obamacare.

H.R. 1549 would require HHS to transfer approximately $4 billion in FY 2013-2016 funding from the PPHF to PCIP. This would allow CMS to enroll sick Americans who have been denied coverage because of the Administration’s decision to close enrollment in the high-risk coverage pool.

“Protecting vulnerable individuals and families with pre-existing conditions has always been a health care reform measure that I have supported,” said Congressman McKeon.  “Protecting those with pre-existing conditions was one of the major motivations for passing Obamacare, yet the Administration has turned their backs on the PCIP, the very entity that was created to protect these folks.   Terminating the wasteful slush fund dismantles some of the most troubling aspects of Obamacare while helping those that need coverage the most.  This is a common sense reform that I am proud to support.”

Key Highlights of H.R. 1549:

—The bill would eliminate four years of funding from the Prevention and Public Health Fund – one of Obamacare’s worst programs which is rife with waste and abuse. For example, the “Prevention” fund has financed: The Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) Communities Putting Prevention to Work Program. This program has used stimulus and Obamacare dollars on projects such as pet neutering campaigns, bike/park signs, and gardening. This program has also funded lobbying campaigns to enact fast food construction moratoriums and soda taxes (included polling to test messages for higher soda taxes).

—CDC’s Community Transformation Grant Program – funding similar lobbying efforts to increase soda, sugar, and tobacco taxes, as well as enact fast food density laws.

—The legislation would help defund implementation of Obamacare. The Administration has tapped $54 million from the Prevention Fund to pay individuals and community groups to sign people up for Obamacare exchanges. Just last week, the Administration announced that is about to tap $304 million for enrollment and advertising campaigns for Obamacare. The Prevention Fund is one of the last sources the Administration has to use for 2014 implementation of its $1 trillion exchange program.

—H.R. 1549 eliminates federal red tape that requires individuals to go without coverage for six months in order to gain eligibility for the program. While PCIP could be improved further, it makes sense to prioritize funding for vulnerable Americans over slush funds for the remainder of 2013.

—Preliminary estimates also show that H.R. 1549 will reduce the deficit by approximately $1 billion.


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