Committee Leaders Introduce Legislation that Eliminates Obamacare Slush Fund, Prioritizes Funding for Vulnerable Americans, and Cuts the Deficit
WASHINGTON, DC – Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA) and Vice Chairman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), along with Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO), this week introduced the Helping Sick Americans Now Act (H.R. 1549), which would immediately help provide health care coverage to individuals with pre-existing health conditions. The Obama administration recently announced sick Americans would be barred from enrolling in the health care law's Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) due to financial constraints. The administration shut the door for new applicants to PCIP despite promises that vulnerable Americans with pre-existing conditions would receive coverage through 2014.
On Wednesday, the full committee will consider the Helping Sick Americans Now Act, which would transfer approximately $4 billion from the Prevention and Public Health Fund to PCIP in order to provide help for those with pre-existing conditions. In addition to eliminating the Obamacare implementation slush fund, the bill is expected to cut the deficit. This legislation would also eliminate the onerous ACA requirement that Americans go uninsured for six months as a condition of eligibility for PCIP.
“Sick Americans without insurance face lots of hurdles to find good coverage. Five weeks ago, House Republicans asked the president to move additional funds into the Pre-Existing Conditions Insurance Plan that was supposed to help these individuals,” said Chairman Pitts. “Since the White House hasn’t answered our appeal, we’ve introduced legislation that would ensure that Americans with pre-existing conditions can once again have access to this program.”
Health Subcommittee Vice Chairman Burgess added, “The administration’s unwillingness to set sensible priorities has required us to introduce this legislation to provide immediate coverage for these individuals and ensure no American with a difficult medical diagnosis is told ‘tough luck’ because the president failed to act.”
The legislation is the latest of several efforts to draw attention to and address this urgent issue. On March 5, 2013, committee leaders, along with House GOP Leadership, raised the issue in a letter to the president recommending the transfer of funds from other programs in the health care law to PCIP. On April 3, 2013, the committee held a hearing with a patient recently denied access to the program. Click here to learn more about the upcoming committee markup.