I have dedicated my time in Congress to improving the lives of the people in the 6th District - especially children.
From helping raise money for projects like the Boys and Girls Club's new home in Navarro County to expanding health care coverage to low-income kids across the country, I want to make sure the future of our country gets the care and attention that they need.
In 1997, I supported giving underprivileged children the medical treatment they needed by creating the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). This was a bipartisan effort between a Republican Congress and a Democratic president.
Ten years later, right before the program was going to lapse, I took charge. Myself and Congressman Nathan Deal (who is now Governor of Georgia) fought to keep the program in check. Some wanted to expand this kids program to include adults. Using the frame work I laid out with my colleagues, we made sure the money and help went to those children who needed it most.
The program was successful, but two years later a new law signed by President Obama allowed it to grow - eventually opening the door to more waste, fraud and abuse.
It not only made sure low-income kids got coverage, but set up a bonus program that relaxed the eligibility requirements and paid states extra money for every new child enrolled - whether they truly need the help or not. Examples of these weakened rules included:
Eliminating an assets test in SCHIP
Tossing out the in-person interview requirement
The government's Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services,
which oversees SCHIP, recently estimated that there are more than $15 billion in improper payments in the Medicaid program associated with eligibility review errors. That waste of taxpayer money is only exacerbated by the creation of the performance bonus payments and the loosening of the eligibility qualifications. SCHIP is susceptible to the same kind of fraud.
I believe we must do everything we can to ensure the
integrity of programs like this to ensure that kids who really need these services get the necessary care; that starts by requiring that eligibility reviews are done well and consistently.
Last week I tried to fix this healthcare slush fund set up by the President by introducing an amendment which would simply stop those bonus payments from continuing. This makes sure there are no longer federal incentives to decrease the integrity of SCHIP and instead ensure that only those that are truly in need receive help through this critical program.
This would save taxpayers $400 million within the next year, without taking away any money from programs that directly improve the health and wellness of vulnerable children. Let me reiterate that: My amendment does not take a dime from any child eligible for SCHIP. It stops fraudsters from lining their pockets with money that is not theirs.
I am dedicated to helping those who need it most, but if we
don't cut waste, fraud and abuse from our social programs, these safety nets will collapse leaving everyone vulnerable.