U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy introduced comprehensive legislation (H.R. 4541) to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Community Health Centers (CHCs), and other critical public health initiatives like the Special Diabetes program, the National Health Service Corps, and Family-to-Family Health Information Centers. Congress failed to renew funding for these programs by the Sept. 30 deadline, placing their future in peril. In addition, Murphy’s bill provides robust funding to support the under-resourced Medicaid system in Puerto Rico and the other U.S. territories, and to support the Medicaid system in states like Florida that enroll displaced individuals from hurricane-stricken Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The cost of the bill is fully offset by modifying the timing, but not the amount, of federal payments to Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans, a move supported by numerous independent experts.
“A healthy nation is a strong and resilient nation,” said Murphy. “My fiscally-responsible bill provides support for children and families, invests in the prevention and treatment of serious diseases, helps our fellow U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico and other territories, and strengthens the health care systems in states like Florida that are welcoming Americans displaced by Hurricane Maria. It’s vital that we work across party lines to help the tens of millions of Americans, including millions of children, who depend on these public health initiatives.”
CHIP provides health insurance to nearly nine million lower-income children in the U.S., including about 400,000 children in Florida, nearly 30,000 of whom reside in the central Florida region that Murphy represents. Florida estimates that it will run out of funding to operate the state’s CHIP program, known as KidCare, in January 2018 unless Congress acts. Other states are in a similar position. CHCs provide health services to 25 million Americans through more than 10,000 centers nationwide. This includes 460 centers in Florida that serve 1.4 million patients a year. A recent academic study estimates that failure to renew the CHC program could compromise patient health and result in the loss of up to 160,000 American jobs.
Murphy’s legislation appropriates $1 billion to support the Medicaid system in Florida and other states that are receiving many displaced individuals from Puerto Rico, which will ensure these individuals receive high-quality care while protecting Florida’s taxpayers. Murphy’s bill also places special emphasis on assisting Puerto Rico and the other U.S. territories, whose Medicaid systems have been seriously underfunded by the federal government, leading to health and fiscal problems. Her bill allocates $8 billion in Medicaid funding for Puerto Rico over the next five years, and reduces the amount of matching funding that Puerto Rico must provide.