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Higgins Votes to Approve Funding for Education and Health Programs, Including Significant Increase for Cancer Treatment & Research

Jul 24, 2009
Press Release

Today, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) voted with his colleagues in the House of Representatives to approve H.R. 3293, the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act of 2010, a bill that supports critical federal education and health programs and services.

“This bill demonstrates a new commitment to America’s priorities with an increased emphasis on fighting disease, educating our youth, caring for our seniors, preparing our workforce and transitioning our veterans,” said Congressman Higgins.  “Western New York will benefit not only through the direct support to Canisius and the Vascular Center but this legislation will help address our severe social security backlogs and support work happening right here at Roswell Park and other facilities along Buffalo’s Medical Campus.
 
The bill includes $700,000, secured by Congressman Higgins for two important local projects that further the health and education of Western New Yorkers.  Kaleida Health will receive $300,000 for the Global Vascular Institute, a highly integrated and state-of-the-art medical facility.  Canisius College will also receive $400,000 for equipment and technology to support its science education program.  These allocations are in addition to $333,000 and $285,000 for Kaleida and Canisius respectively, secured with the help of Congressman Higgins last year.

Congressman Higgins also noted this bill provides $31.3 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) moving closer toward the President’s goal of doubling cancer research over his tenure.  NIH funding for 2010 provides $942 million over 2009 levels and will support cutting-edge research and treatments.

This legislation includes $11.4 billion, 993 million above 2009, to help the Social Security Administration improve services and address the severe backlog of rising retirement and disability claims.  Congressman Higgins has long supported increased funding and staff to address social security backlogs.  In the last year, since the Congressman’s call for more staff to handle cases, the number of full-time judges in the Buffalo Hearing office region has increased from 12 to 15. Processing times continue to fall as well. In 2008 the average wait time was nearly two years, now it averages around 541 days (about a year and a half).

Other highlights of the bill include:

Health

  • Funding to address workforce shortages in health professions including $92 million for nurse training that will help address the growing national nursing shortage;
  • Support for Community Health Centers which provide primary health care to 17 million patients in both urban and rural underserved areas;

Senior Services

  • $5.1 billion for the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) which provides seniors and families on fixed incomes with help paying for heating bills during the cold winter months;
  • $1.5 billion for Senior nutrition and transportation which will provide nearly 239 million meals to 2.5 million older Americans;

Education

  • An increase in the federal Pell Grant providing students with up to $5,550 to help pay for college;
  • A tripling of federal funding for youth literacy and $628 million for adult education, critically important for areas like Erie County where one in five residents are functionally illiterate and Chautauqua County where the rate is 12%;

Job Training

  • $100 million for YouthBuild which supports programs like the one operated by Chautauqua Home Rehabilitation and Improvement Corporation (CHRIC) in Jamestown that trains at-risk youth in the construction trades while building affordable housing;
  • Support for a pre-apprenticeship Green Jobs program to prepare workers for careers in energy efficiency and renewable energy; and
    „X $265 Million for Veteran Employment and Training initiatives that maximize opportunities for veterans transitioning to the civilian workforce.

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration and approval.