PALLONE SUPPORTS AMENDMENT BLOCKING HARMFUL MEDICAID REGULATIONS & EXPANDING UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, issued the following statement after the House passed a $183.9 billion emergency supplemental appropriations bill. The New Jersey congressman opposed an amendment that continues funding the war in Iraq, but he supported an amendment that blocked harmful Medicaid regulations, expanded unemployment insurance for those out of work and created a new G.I. bill for soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Today, the House blocked the Bush administration from implementing six regulations that would produce significant cuts to Medicaid over the next five years and would seriously undermine the longstanding partnership between the federal and state government.
"The administration's action was nothing more than an attempt to shift additional costs onto cash-strapped states. At a time of economic uncertainty, it is important that Washington work to strengthen the safety net for our most vulnerable populations, not weaken it as the Bush administration attempted to do."
"The House also extended unemployment insurance for workers who are having a difficult time finding a job. Over the last five months, the Bush economy has lost 325,000 jobs, making it increasingly difficult for unemployed workers to find work.
"Nearly one in five unemployed Americans have lost their unemployment benefits because it has taken them longer than 26 weeks to find a new job. In New Jersey, 57,157 workers have already exhausted all 26 weeks of unemployment insurance, and between May 2008 and March 2009 an additional 153,110 others will face the same fate.
"By extending unemployment benefits, we are giving these workers an additional 13 weeks of assistance. Unemployed workers are not responsible for this economic downturn. They should not be punished simply because they are looking for a job at a time when our economy is simply not creating them.
"The House also passed a new GI Bill that restores the promise of a four-year college education to the veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The new GI Bill goes further than current law, which only covers a small portion of either a public or private college education. The education of our nation's veterans should be considered a cost of the war that they rightfully earned as part of their military service."