November 2, 2017
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
On behalf of the millions of members and supporters of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, I am writing to express our support for reauthorizing vital health programs including the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Community Health Centers. CHIP provides health coverage for millions of children in working families. Since the 1997 passage of CHIP, which has received bipartisan support, the number of uninsured children has been reduced by 50 percent. Community Health Centers offer essential medical care to more than 27 million people in rural and urban communities across the country.
However, we oppose H. R. 3922, the “Continuing Community Health and Medical Professional Programs to Improve Our Nation, Increase National Gains, and Help Ensure Access for Little Ones, Toddlers, and Hopeful Youth by Keeping Insurance Delivery Stable Act of 2017” (CHAMPIONING HEALTHY KIDS Act), which would offset part of the cost of extending health insurance for children by requiring some older Medicare beneficiaries to pay 100 percent of the cost of their Medicare Part B premium. We oppose income-related premiums in general and further increasing them as a pay-for to extend the CHIP program because:
- Wealthy individuals, who have paid more into Medicare during their working years, already pay higher premiums, and an additional increase included in the “Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization (MACRA) of 2015” (P.L. 114-10) takes effect in 2018. Additional means testing ultimately raises costs for middle- and lower-income seniors who depend on Medicare.
- Means testing undermines the social insurance nature of Medicare. If means testing results in Medicare becoming increasingly unfair to higher-income beneficiaries, who tend to be younger and healthier, they could opt out of the program which would not only increase overall costs but also reduce public support for Medicare itself.
- The National Committee strongly rejects proposals that unnecessarily pit the interests of children and seniors against each other.
The National Committee instead supports the Democratic Alternative which provides a 5-year reauthorization for CHIP and a 2-year reauthorization of important public health programs including Community Health Centers. The Democratic Substitute is funded with a commonsense offset that does not cut seniors’ earned Medicare benefits; it simply shifts the time Medicare makes payments to private plans from a prospective payment to one closer to the time of delivery of services, which allows Medicare, rather than private insurance companies, to earn interest on this money.
The National Committee urges you and your colleagues to oppose H. R. 3922 and to support the Democratic Alternative which would reauthorize CHIP and Community Health Centers without taking resources from the Medicare program.
President and CEO