The House Energy and Commerce Committee today approved Congressman Joe Pitts' (PA-16) Helping Sick Americans Now Act by a vote of 27 to 20. The bill, H.R. 1549, moves existing funds into the Pre-Existing Conditions Insurance Plan to keep it open to new enrollment through the end of the year.
"Right now, a program intended to help sick Americans is closed off to new enrollees because the President won't transfer money that is available right now," said Pitts. "My bill takes money from a wasteful, duplicative fund, moves it into a program that has bipartisan support and helps pay down the debt."
H.R. 1549 removes funds from the Health and Human Secretary's slush fund, the Public Health and Prevention Fund. This fund has no Congressional oversight and has directed funding to programs at the Centers for Disease Control that have little or nothing to do with public health. For example, CDC's Communities Putting Prevention to Work and Community Transformation Grant program, both of which have received Prevention funds, have paid for:
-Counter to rules against such spending, $3 million went to lobby on behalf of state soda taxes in New York.
-Boston spent $1 million on city gardening projects.
-Nashville used some money from the fund to promote pet spaying an neutering.
"At a April 2 Health Subcommittee hearing, we heard from a 42-year-old mother of two who is fighting cancer. She has been locked out of the program. I'm glad the committee approved the bill to help those in need, and I look forward to it being considered in the whole House next week," said Pitts.