Pallone Floor Remarks on Medicaid Extenders
Washington, D.C. – Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) delivered the following remarks on the House Floor today during consideration of H.R. 259, Medicaid Extenders Act of 2019:
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my support for H.R. 259, the Medicaid Extenders Act of 2019. This bill would extend for three months the successful Money Follows the Person (MFP) demonstration and the spousal impoverishment protections for Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS) recipients. These two provisions have helped tens of thousands of people remain in the community with their families and friends while receiving the health care and other services they need.
The MFP demonstration helps people transition from institutional settings to community-based settings so they can live in their homes and maintain their independence. All of this is possible because the demonstration provides them access to the services in their home that they would otherwise receive in an institution. This is a widely-used and successful program. Currently, 43 states and the District of Columbia participate. And it has helped over 75,000 people transition from institutions to the community. I want to thank my colleagues, Representative Dingell and Representative Guthrie, for their bipartisan efforts to protect this important program. I urge my colleagues to support extending this important program as the Energy and Commerce Committee works on a longer-term extension.
I also support extending the protections against spousal impoverishment for beneficiaries receiving Home and Community Based Services. These protections ensure that people can receive the community-based services they need, and that their spouse has enough income and assets to meet their living expenses. This protection expired at the end of last year and it is vital that we act quickly to reauthorize it. Without this protection, individuals may lose access to important services or face unnecessary institutionalization. This is a terrible choice for families to make, and one that we can prevent by passing this bill. Similar to MFP, this extension will give the Committee time to work on a long-term solution.
Mr. Speaker, both of these extensions were passed as a part of the Continuing Resolution in the Senate in December. Unfortunately, since then, a fight has ensued over appropriations funding. While it is my hope that the President will drop his demands for an ineffective and unnecessary wall, I do not want these programs to be collateral damage over that debate.
Both of these programs have bipartisan support and must be extended without delay. I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 259, the Medicaid Extenders Act of 2019, and reserve the balance of my time.