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Mrs. Capps moves to recommit the bill H.R. 4628 to the Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Committee on Energy and Commerce with instructions to report the same back to the House forthwith with the following amendment: Add at the end of the bill the following new section:
SEC. 5. PROHIBITION AGAINST CUTS IN HEALTH INSURANCE BENEFITS FOR WOMEN AND CHILDREN.
Nothing in this Act shall endorse, promote, or result in a reduction of, or increased costs for, benefits in health insurance coverage offered by health insurance companies for women and children, including benefits for commonly prescribed contraception, mammograms, cervical cancer screenings, childhood immunizations, and health screenings for newborns.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentlelady from California is recognized for 5 minutes in support of her motion.
Mrs. CAPPS. Mr. Speaker, this is the final--it's the only--amendment to this bill. It will not kill the bill or send it back to committee. Instead, if the House adopts this amendment, it will immediately move to final passage.
It appears that we now all agree that we cannot let student loan rates double
come this July--that's good--but I wish we were also looking for a bipartisan solution to funding the continuation of low rates on student loans. Instead, the majority is engaging in another partisan attack on public health funding, funding that improves the lives of Americans and the productivity of our workforce.
I strongly oppose this position and the proposed cuts to the prevention fund, funds that will make women and children healthier, and that's why I've offered this straightforward amendment. It would ensure that poor policy decisions made here in Congress, namely, to get rid of the only dedicated funding we have for public health and prevention, do not give insurance companies an excuse to cut benefits or to increase the costs of preventative services for women and children. These services include critical access to contraception, mammograms, cancer screenings, and immunizations.
Whatever our strong disagreements are about the underlying bill, we surely can agree that no insurance company should use this as an excuse to hinder access to basic preventative services. The Public Health and Prevention Fund is a critical investment in both our Nation's health and our economic future, especially for women and children.
Its value cannot be understated. A healthy mother is better able to raise a child; a healthy child will be ready and able to learn in school; and a healthy worker is more productive for American businesses.
Moreover, this fund is critical to bringing down health care costs. It targets the most prevalent and preventable of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. The fund has been used to ensure that our children have the vaccines they need to avoid painful and expensive childhood illnesses. It supports programs to prevent birth defects and autism surveillance. And the fund supports critical women's health screenings. There will be 600,000 screenings cut with the repeal of this fund.
These are not frivolous programs. As mothers and grandmothers, we know the importance of preventing birth defects and having access to vaccines, knowing we're doing everything we possibly can to ensure that our children have a healthy start. As a nurse, I know the importance of preventing chronic diseases and catching cancer early. As a taxpayer, I surely know that we cannot afford to keep ignoring the cost benefit of prevention, programs that have a 5-to-1 return on our smart investments. States and counties all over the country are realizing the importance of prevention programs. That's why they've all embraced the prevention fund that this bill wipes out, and it wipes it out completely. In fact, 760 nonpartisan groups across the country have signed on in support of the prevention fund.
I would like to insert this list of organizations for the public record, 760 nonpartisan groups. This investment in public health has been a long time coming. To abolish it now will send us back to square one, just when we can least afford to do that.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, the women of this country are watching. They're watching us here today. They have watched as countless bills and budget proposals have moved through this House attacking and zeroing out programs that keep women healthy, their children fed, and families above water.
Now is the time to stand up for women. Vote for this final amendment to this bill to show the women of America that we support them and we support their families and we support the services that they need to lead a happier and healthier life.
I yield back the balance of my time.
Groups Supporting the Prevention and Public Health Fund
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