Engel: GOP Has Wasted Time, Jeopardized Vital Programs

Engel: GOP Has Wasted Time, Jeopardized Vital Programs

Funding for children’s health, college affordability programs not extended due to GOP inaction

WASHINGTON D.C.— Congressman Eliot L. Engel, a top member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, issued the following statement on Republican inaction in Congress:

“Congressional Republicans have spent nine months on their tired vendetta against the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Now, just days before the fiscal year ends, they’ve proven only that they were willing to put critical programs on the backburner for a shot at fulfilling their misguided political promises.

“Federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expires on September 30th. This program, known in New York as ‘Child Health Plus,’ provides health insurance to more than 600,000 New York children and about 9 million children nationwide. Thankfully, New York has sufficient funds to keep our CHIP program operational past this deadline – but other states face a grimmer reality. 10 states are projected to deplete their CHIP funds by the end of this year, meaning they will soon need to begin the process of shutting their programs down – making the threat of disrupted health coverage very real.

“Also expiring September 30th is funding for community health centers. Community health centers, funded by the federal government, serve one-in-thirteen people nationwide. Americans who are uninsured or don’t have a ‘regular doctor’ can turn to community health centers in times of need, rather than the emergency room. This allows patients to avoid unnecessary ER bills and, in turn, saves our health care system billions of dollars. By allowing this deadline to pass, Republicans are putting these centers and their patients in jeopardy. Some will need to end weekend and evening hours, roll back services, or freeze hiring to cope with the funding cliff.

“For months, I have urged the Majority to act on these programs. I highlighted the need to extend CHIP and community health center funding during an Energy and Commerce Committee hearing in June. I again pressed the issue in a letter to House Leadership earlier this month. In addition, I am a cosponsor of H.R. 3770, the Community Health Investment, Modernization and Excellence Act to extend community health center funding. I sincerely hope that Republicans won’t waste any more time before extending these lifelines for our constituents.

“Also expiring September 30th is the Perkins Loan Program. Perkins Loans are federal loans provided to low income students to make higher education more affordable. Students throughout this country rely on these funds to pursue their dreams of higher education. Unfortunately, beginning October 1, no new Perkins Loans will be disbursed and billions of dollars in student aid will be eliminated from schools’ revolving funds. This jeopardizes the future of the 50,000 New York students who have already begun their fall semesters.

“The Perkins Loan Program is too important to New Yorkers to let lapse. I am a cosponsor of H.R. 2482, the Perkins Loan Extension Act and this week I called on House leadership to reauthorize this critical program. Sadly, those in leadership have failed to act.

“These are programs that protect Americans, improve affordability, and expand access to critical, life-saving care. It is shameful that, just days before the end of the fiscal year, Republicans have put so many people in jeopardy.”