Neal Opening Statement at Markup of Worker and Family Support and Health Legislation

Sep 21, 2022
Press Release

(As prepared for delivery)

First up, we will markup up legislation in honor of our late colleague, the Ranking Member of our Committee’s Worker and Family Support Subcommittee, Jackie Walorski.

We have the privilege of being joined by the late Congresswoman’s husband, Dean, her mother, Mert, as well as one of our own, former Congresswoman Susan Brooks, and one of Jackie’s district staffers, Sharon. Thank you all so much for joining us in this room that I know Jackie loved so much. You have been in our thoughts and have our deepest condolences.

Congresswoman Walorski was a champion for women and children, in her district and around the world. She was leading negotiations for this bill for her colleagues on the Republican side when she was tragically taken from us. As the negotiations continued and we reached a deal, it was clear that this was the perfect way to honor Jackie, her legacy, and her service to her country. I’m proud of the wide, bipartisan support this legislation has received, and thank Dean, Mert, Sharon, and former Congresswoman Susan Brooks for being here with us today.

Home visiting is a powerful program that helps young children and new parents thrive by meeting them where they are. The positive outcomes are well documented, from decreasing maternal mortality and morbidity to improving school readiness, and promoting family well-being. It’s clear that MIECHV works, and I have seen that personally in my hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts.

The Jackie Walorski Maternal Child Home Visiting Reauthorization Act doubles the federal funding for home visiting over the next 5 years. This is the largest funding increase in MIECHV history. It also means predictability for states and territories to strengthen the program’s most important resource—its staff. The bond that home visitors form with parents and children is what sets MIECHV apart. With this reauthorized bill, MIECHV will be able to serve even more eligible families, retain its talented workforce, and maintain the high standards of effectiveness.

Back in February, this Committee held its first hearing on mental health in more than a decade. We had an outpouring of interest, demonstrating just how urgent the need for action is, and that’s why today, we are also considering a series of bipartisan bills that our members have worked together on a bipartisan basis.

What we are considering today is the product of a lot of hard work from both sides of the aisle. I want to applaud all the members involved—you don’t see this type of bipartisanship every day, and the American people are better for it.

Over the last several years, we’ve made great strides in recognizing the importance of caring for our mental health as a society. But even as the conversation has progressed, far too many face difficulties in accessing the services they need. The care workforce hasn’t been able to keep up with demand and insurance plans haven’t expanded care.

But with today’s markup, we are strengthening mental health care across the continuum. We will consider bills that range from expanding access to a variety of mental health counselors to improving transparency for patients searching for new providers or the health coverage that’s best for them.

We also address important changes to the Medicare program, widening access to mental health care to this critical population.

We take important steps to better protect victims of sexual assault from surprise medical bills and out-of-pocket expenses.

Many of these bills build on past bipartisan Committee work, and ultimately, lead to a system that is easier for consumers.

This is extremely important work, and I can’t thank all of the members involved enough for staying the course and working to a deal. Your contributions will deliver a more accessible, transparent health care system for the American people.

Now, I will turn to Mr. Brady for the purpose of an opening statement.