Over the course of the last month I have written about the need to reauthorize two very important programs that support children: The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV).
Today I have Good News to Share!!
Last week, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). In addition to extending CHIP for an additional two years, MACRA extends funding for the Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program which is slated to expire March 31, 2015—at current funding levels of $400 million per year – and community health centers, along with other key programs for low-income families and seniors.
We applaud the House and House leadership for taking a bipartisan approach to the important issues of the future of CHIP and MIECHV. We are especially pleased that the approach to CHIP maintains this successful program in its current state, rather than making harmful cuts. While no bill is perfect, overall this bill protects and extends programs vital to the health of children and families.
Please take the time to thank your members of Congress who voted to support CHIP in the House. In New Hampshire both Congresswoman Kuster and Congressman Guinta supported the bill. In Maine both Congresswoman Pingree and Congressman Poliquin supported passage of the legislation.
Continued funding depends on the Senate taking similar action. However, Senate leadership has decided to wait until after recess to vote on a package. President Obama has already signaled that he will sign the bill when it reaches his desk.
The Senate will be out on recess until April 13. We strongly encourage you to call or meet with your senators and their staff during this two-week period when they are home. Please urge them to extend CHIP with all its current provisions intact as quickly as possible.
While we are thanking our members for the above, we must also be talking to them about the steps they are taking that are harmful to children and families. Such is the case with SNAP.
House and Senate Pass Budgets that Disproportionally Attack Federal Nutrition Programs
Statement by James Weill, President, Food Research and Action Center
As the country grapples with the hardships and damage created by declining and stagnant wages, declining opportunity, worsening inequality, and growing struggles of both low-income and moderate-income families, the House and Senate this week passed budgets that would make all those problems worse. One centerpiece of these ill-conceived budgets is subjecting the federal nutrition programs to staggering cuts that would directly impact the health and well-being of tens of millions of people living below or just above the poverty line.
Congress is ignoring the realities of the struggles of millions of individuals and families who must rely on programs such as SNAP to make ends meet. They are seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, children, and working and unemployed adults; and they live in every community in our country.
As the process continues, we urge Members of Congress to spend more time in their states and districts to talk with families receiving programs like SNAP and learn about their needs and the programs’ strengths. FRAC and our state and local allies will continue to press Congress to listen to the voices from back home and to respond to the needs of their constituents who rely on these programs to meet their most basic needs and help lift them out of poverty.
There has been much rhetoric tossed about regarding the NH House budget the past few weeks. One thing that was said by several representatives has really bothered me. Comments have been made that when the House budget under then Speaker O’Brien was passed there were claims made that the sky would fall and it didn’t and it won’t fall with this budget either.
Well, I beg to differ.
If you were one of the intact families who saw their household income wiped out when the TANF 2-parent assistance program was eliminated by the legislature, the sky fell.
If you were one of the children who saw their household income plummet when the eligibility for SSI/TANF changed, the sky fell.
If you were the parent of a child with a mental health crisis who waited with him/her in a hospital emergency room for days because there were no beds available at the New Hampshire State Hospital, the sky fell.
This year, members of the New Hampshire House Finance Committee have proposed slashing many of the health and safety programs that serve and protect New Hampshire’s children and families, as well as the communities in which they live and work. The proposed cuts far exceed the moderate cost reductions needed to balance the state’s biennial budget.
And once again, for many children and their families the sky will fall.
We are asking you to ACT NOW to STOP these unnecessary budget cuts that are harmful to New Hampshire’s children and families by adding your name to our petition.
We call on members of the state House & Senate to pass a responsible, balanced budget that protects taxpayers without sacrificing the essential programs and services that New Hampshire families and communities depend on for our health, safety, and quality of life.
Please take a minute now to Sign the Petition.
On Wednesday, April 1st, (I’m not fooling you!), the NH House will vote on the budget that was passed by the House Finance Committee (14-9).
Prior to that vote, please join advocates, faith leaders, and other concerned citizens at the State House to tell our representatives to VOTE NO on the House Finance Committee budget and instead pass a responsible, balanced budget that protects taxpayers without sacrificing the essential programs and services New Hampshire families and communities depend on for our health, safety, and quality of life.
If you are unable to join to us in Concord please call your state representative with the same message.
Let’s work together to ensure that New Hampshire has a strong safety net in place for ALL Granite Staters.
Our friends at the NH Fiscal Policy Institute have issued an analysis of the House budget. You can find that Budget Brief here.