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The New Fight Over Net Neutrality

Yesterday, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced plans to repeal 2015’s Open Internet rules more commonly known as Net Neutrality.

Net neutrality is the principle that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should provide equal access to all applications, content, platforms, and websites. The Federal Communications Commission adopted rules to provide a level playing field and protect against content discrimination, and these rules went into effect in June of 2015.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter announced her opposition to these proposed changes in a statement:

“I strongly oppose today’s FCC proposal, which would repeal the Open Internet rules we developed to protect consumers and instead let network owners create ‘fast lanes’ and ‘slow lanes’ for web content, allowing some pages, apps, and videos to load faster than others. Repealing Open Internet rules would give Internet service providers unprecedented control over what content consumers can access, and could lead to an Internet that looks more like cable TV, with ‘channels’ of content.

“The FCC must continue to defend net neutrality: the simple principle that lawful content on the Internet should be equally accessible to everyone, and that Internet service providers such as Comcast and Verizon should not be allowed to discriminate against some content providers. It means these Internet service providers shouldn’t be able to create a two-speed Internet, where bigger companies pay for faster speeds, or where customers have to pay more to receive quick service.

“Without the guarantee of network neutrality, the Internet superhighway’s rules of the road will favor big tech businesses over newer startups. The Internet has allowed the proud tradition of American ingenuity and entrepreneurship to reach every corner of the globe. Its openness has enabled a new generation of New Hampshire innovators to turn a bright idea and a laptop into a business. The last thing our economy needs now is for these engines of growth to be slowed,” concluded Shea-Porter.

Shea-Porter was a leader in 2014’s successful fight to defend net neutrality, cosponsoring the Open Internet Preservation Act of 2014, a temporary fix to allow the FCC time to rewrite its rules and defend net neutrality, and sending a letter to then-FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler during development of the Open Internet rules, urging the inclusion of strong consumer protections to prevent anti-competitive behavior and promote innovation. Earlier this year, she and 31 colleagues urged Chairman Pai to follow the 2015 Open Internet rules.

Shea-Porter has continued to be a staunch Internet privacy advocate. She previously introduced the Personal Data Privacy and Security Act of 2014 to ensure consumers are notified quickly if their private information has been compromised, and help prevent cyber-attacks by addressing the underlying problem of lax security and a lack of accountability. She has also co-introduced legislation that would prohibit employers from requiring current and prospective employees from disclosing their personal passwords as a condition of either keeping or getting a job. In March, she voted “no” on S.J.Res.34, Republican legislation that became law and will allow Internet Service Providers to sell private browsing data without a consumer’s permission.

Congresswoman Annie Kuster also opposed rolling back the Net Neutrality provision that she voted for in 2015.

“The free and open internet is critical to growing the industries and jobs that are an important part of the 21st century economy,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “We must ensure that consumers and startups that use the internet have equal access to online content and services. Congress should act to put forward rules of the road that will protect consumers. I’ll continue to advocate for Net Neutrality so that people of all economic backgrounds have equal access to information and internet capabilities.”

Senator Maggie Hassan stated she is concerned with Chairman Pai’s approach.

“I am very concerned by the approach outlined by Chairman Pai, which could undermine critical online protections for consumers and innovators,” said Senator Maggie Hassan. “Net neutrality ensures a level playing field that helps promote innovation and encourage economic growth while protecting consumers from unfair practices. It is essential that we maintain these principals. The FCC should reject Chairman Pai’s approach and work to ensure strong net neutrality rules for all Granite Staters and Americans.”

After the long hard fight to ensure Net Neutrality just two years ago we are once again in a fight over access to the internet.  We must ensure that the Net Neutrality provisions are not eliminated.

Senator Hassan Highlights Cuts To EPA At NH Based ReVision Energy

At ReVision Energy, Senator Hassan Highlights Harmful Impact of President Trump’s Proposed Budget Cuts on New Hampshire’s Renewable Energy Industry

Senator Hassan speaking with employees at ReVision Energy in Brentwood.

BRENTWOOD – Today, building on her efforts to create a more innovative and affordable clean energy future for New Hampshire’s people and businesses, Senator Maggie Hassan visited ReVision Energy, a solar energy company that is helping to create jobs and reduce New Hampshire’s carbon footprint while cutting energy costs for consumers.

The Senator toured the facility, met with employees, and emphasized how President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal programs that promote local renewable energy efforts would hurt New Hampshire’s people, businesses, and economy.

“ReVision Energy is helping to protect our environment while creating jobs and building a more innovative and affordable clean energy future for our people and businesses in the Granite State,” Senator Hassan said.  “Unfortunately, President Trump’s proposed budget undermines the important work of businesses like ReVision Energy, drastically cutting research programs at the EPA and the Department of Energy that focus on promoting energy efficiency and reducing our carbon footprint. I will continue to fight against these reckless cuts and work to achieve a cleaner environment and stronger energy future that will help our citizens, businesses, and economy thrive.”

ReVision Energy is working to build a cleaner, more innovative energy future in New Hampshire by leading the way in solar design, installation, and service for homes, businesses, municipal buildings, and nonprofits throughout the state and region. ReVision Energy is also a partner in the community-led effort, Energize 360, which encourages residents to measure, reduce, and renew energy use.

Senator Hassan has been a vocal opponent of President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to the EPA. Senator Hassan joined Senator Shaheen and others in sending a letter to the President expressing extreme concern over the cuts and the threat they pose to the EPA’s ability to protect public health and ensure that citizens have clean air and clean water.

Shea-Porter Discusses Health Care with Manchester Community Health Center Leaders

Roundtable Highlights Progress, Next Steps on Expanding Access to Care & Addressing Opioid Crisis

MANCHESTER — Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) today hosted a roundtable discussion with Manchester Community Health Center (MCHC) leaders and staff. The discussion highlighted the key role community health centers play in serving the Manchester community, including in addressing the heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioid crisis, and how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its Medicaid expansion have improved community health centers’ ability to provide care. Shea-Porter shared her commitment to continuing that progress and discussed how her newly introduced bill, the Medicare You Can Opt Into Act of 2017, would do that.

“Community health centers know better than anyone that this would be the worst time to yank the rug out from under people who now have access to care, because it’s working,” Shea-Porter said. “It’s impressive to see the innovation here at Manchester Community Health Center, especially in integrating behavioral health and substance use disorder treatment in care, because for so many years this was siloed.”

 

Shea-Porter speaks with MCHC staff and community members

“Health centers find a way to stretch that dollar and be creative,” said Kris McCracken, MCHC President and CEO, highlighting community health centers’ impressive return on investment and the need to continue the Affordable Care Act’s investment in the Community Health Center Fund. Shea-Porter recently wrote to Congressional appropriators in support of the funding, together with 288 bipartisan Members of Congress.

Julie Hazell-Felch, MCHC’s Director of Behavioral Health, discussed how the ACA and its Medicaid expansion have allowed MCHC to address the substance use disorder crisis in New Hampshire, highlighting its medication assisted treatment (MAT) program for patients with opioid and alcohol use disorder and its school-based outreach and prevention efforts, saying: “If we lost Medicaid expansion we wouldn’t be able to offer these programs, and you aren’t going to find this amount of diversified programs anywhere else.”

Cecilia Skerry, who directs MCHC’s patient navigator services, highlighted the benefits of being able to connect previously uninsured patients with coverage, saying: “Since the ACA was enacted in 2010, my team has been able to provide better quality assistance. Now, we can get anywhere from 350 to 500 new patients a month” enrolled in coverage through the ACA’s Marketplace or Medicaid expansion (the New Hampshire Health Protection Program).

Hassan Hits The Streets Pushing Her Bill For Student Debt Relief

Senator Hassan Travels Across New Hampshire to Highlight Her First Bill, Which Would Help Ease Burden of Student Debt for Entrepreneurs

CONWAY – Today, Senator Maggie Hassan traveled across New Hampshire to highlight her first bill, the Reigniting Opportunity for Innovators (ROI) Act, which would provide the student loan debt relief necessary for entrepreneurs to start up and grow small businesses.

Through discussions with students and entrepreneurs at the UNH Entrepreneurship Center in Durham, women entrepreneurs at the Women’s Rural Entrepreneurship Network in Bethlehem, and innovative business leaders at Conway Tech Village, Senator Hassan highlighted how the ROI Act would help entrepreneurs start new businesses by providing them student loan debt relief – and in some cases, student loan debt cancellation.

“The Reigniting Opportunity for Innovators Act is a common-sense step to help relieve student loan debt and give entrepreneurs the room they need to start up and grow new businesses,” said Senator Maggie Hassan. “I appreciated hearing from students and entrepreneurs today about the challenges they face, and discussing how the ROI Act would help them start new businesses in the future. I will work with my colleagues in the United States Senate to move this legislation forward.”

“I was pleased to join Senator Hassan and business leaders from the Mount Washington Valley today to discuss how the Reigniting Opportunity for Innovators Act would drive economic growth in our region,” said Jac Cuddy, Executive Director of the Mount Washington Valley Economic Council. “Across the Mount Washington Valley, entrepreneurs are being held back as a result of the burden of student loan debt. Senator Hassan’s ROI Act would provide these young entrepreneurs with key support, while also focusing on revitalizing areas like the Mount Washington Valley. This common-sense legislation is exactly the kind of step we need to be taking to continue growing our economy and supporting innovative businesses.”

“We are seeing more entrepreneurs shy away from starting up their own small business because of the burden posed by high levels student debt,” said Rich Grogan of the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center. “The Reigniting Opportunity for Innovators Act will help address this issue, providing student loan debt relief and giving innovators the freedom and confidence they need to take the risks necessary to start-up and grow small businesses. I am grateful for Senator Hassan’s leadership on the issue and for her commitment to supporting New Hampshire’s small businesses, which serve as the engine of our economy.”

“Working in higher education and entrepreneurship, I frequently hear from students about the financial challenges they face in creating their own businesses because they are bogged down by student loan debt,” said Ian Grant of UNH Peter T. Paul Entrepreneurship Center. “Easing the burden of student loan debt is essential to supporting our young innovators who are eager to turn their ideas into thriving innovative businesses. I commend Senator Hassan for introducing the Reigniting Opportunity for Innovators Act to support our young people, encourage innovation, and in turn, strengthen our state’s economy, and I will be sharing the importance of this bill with my colleagues at entrepreneurship centers at other universities across the country. ”

Read more about the ROI Act here.

Hassan Introduces Student Loan Relief Bill For Young Entrepreneurs

Senator Hassan Introduces Bill to Provide Student Loan Debt Relief to Young Entrepreneurs Starting Innovative Small Businesses

WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan today introduced the Reigniting Opportunity for Innovators (ROI) Act, which would help provide the student loan debt relief necessary for young entrepreneurs to start up and grow innovative small businesses.

“As student loan debt levels have risen, the number of young entrepreneurs has declined. To keep our economy growing, we must help relieve the student debt burden that is keeping many young entrepreneurs from launching innovative new businesses,” Senator Maggie Hassan said. “The ROI Act will take common-sense steps to decrease the burden of student loan debt and help allow the next generation of entrepreneurs to thrive, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to support entrepreneurs.” 

New businesses have historically been the top job creators in the country, but many young people are delaying starting new businesses because of their student loans. The percentage of new entrepreneurs between 20-34 years old fell to 25 percent in 2014, down from almost 35 percent in 1996 according to a  New York Times report. Additionally, Gallup found that between 2006-2015, 63 percent of college graduates left school with some amount of student loan debt and, of those, 19 percent say they have delayed starting a business due to their loan debt. 

The ROI Act will allow founders and full-time employees of small business start-ups certified by Small Business Development Centers to have their federal student loan payments and interest accrual deferred for up to three years while launching a start-up. If the start-up is located in an economically distressed area, founders and employees who make twenty-four monthly payments will also be eligible for cancellation of up to $20,000 in student loans. 

“As the CEO of an organization dedicated to helping startup businesses grow, I have seen firsthand the difficulties young entrepreneurs face when starting a new company,” said Mark Kaplan, CEO of Alpha Loft. “Young people have incredible ideas, but often their student debt prevents them from being able to put idea into action and develop a business that would drive economic growth. Senator Hassan’s ROI Act is an important step toward relieving the burden of student debt on these young people, so they can build the types of companies we know help create the economy – and the workforce – of tomorrow.”

 “Young people often struggle to start new businesses, because their student loans prevent them from securing the additional capital necessary to get a business off the ground,” said Mary Collins, Former State Director for the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center. “Senator Hassan’s Reigniting Opportunity for Innovators Act will allow young entrepreneurs to take the next step into starting a new business, and allow them the room to grow these businesses into the engines of our economy.” 

Senator Hassan has long made promoting entrepreneurship and supporting innovative businesses a top priority. During her time as Governor, she laid out and implemented her Innovate NH plan – including working to hold down the cost of higher education, increasing and making permanent the R&D tax credit, and launching the award-winning Live Free and Start initiative. As a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Senator Hassan has continued this focus on fostering innovation and entrepreneurship, supporting measures to promote women entrepreneurs, increase participation in the STEM fields, and expand access to broadband.

For more information on the ROI Act, click here.

Shea-Porter, Kuster Announce 2017 Congressional Art Competition

Annual Contest Showcases New Hampshire
High School Students’ Artistic Talent

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswomen Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) and Annie Kuster (NH-02) today announced a call for entries for the 2017 Congressional Art Competition. Each spring, members of Congress sponsor a nationwide high school visual art competition where students from across the country submit their artwork to be displayed in the U.S. Capitol Building.

“Our state’s high school artists have produced some amazing artwork through the years and I am excited to see what this year’s contributors will exhibit,” said Shea-Porter. 

“I always enjoy seeing the beautiful works of art that young Granite Staters create for this competition,” said Kuster. “These pieces bring joy to visitors from around the country. I thank these talented individuals for sharing their work with us.” 

The Congressional Art Competition has offered young artists the opportunity for recognition and encouragement since 1982. More than 650,000 high school students have been involved with the nationwide competition through the years. The winning artwork from each Congressional district is displayed in an eleven-month exhibit in the Cannon House Office Building tunnel that leads into the U.S. Capitol.  

Art entered in the contest may be up to 26 inches by 26 inches (including the frame) and up to 4 inches in depth. Eligible artwork mediums include: 

·         Paintings: Oil, Acrylics, Watercolor, etc.

·         Drawings: Pastels, Colored Pencil, Pencil, Charcoal, Ink, Marker (It is recommended that charcoal and pastel drawings be fixed)

·         Collages: Must be two dimensional

·         Prints: Lithographs, Silk Screen, Block Prints

·         Mixed Media: Use of more than two mediums such as Pencil, Ink, Watercolor, etc.

·         Computer-generated art 

·         Photographs 

The deadline for entries is Friday, April 28, 2017 at 5:00 PM. For more information, First District constituents may view full contest guidelines at shea-porter.house.gov/services/art-competition, and Second District constituents may view full contest guidelines at kuster.house.gov/services/art-competition.

Women Honored On “Equal Pay Day”

Yesterday, April 4th, was Equal Pay Day, the day when women finally earn as much as their male counterparts did in the previous year.

“Pay discrimination undermines our country’s fundamental principles of equality. As long as millions of American women continue to only earn 79 cents for every dollar earned by men, we have to keep fighting,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “Equal Pay Day is an important reminder that, despite recent progress, we still have a long way to go to end pay discrimination. A recent study projected that the wage gap in New Hampshire will close in 2079. Waiting 62 years to close the wage gap is just unacceptable, hurting Granite State women, their families and our economy. It’s time to make equal pay for equal work a reality.”

In the U.S. Senate, Senator Maggie Hassan joined Senator Shaheen and 40 other Senators in reintroducing the Paycheck Fairness Act.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963, guaranteeing that women can challenge wage discrimination and hold employers accountable. Despite making up half of the workforce in the country, women still make only 80 cents, on average, for every dollar earned by a man. The gap widens for women of color: African-American women only earn 63 cents on the dollar and Hispanic only earn 54 cents, on average, compared to white men. 

“It’s long past time for women to earn an equal day’s pay for an equal day’s work,” Senator Hassan said. “Wage discrimination is unacceptable and it strains the financial security of thousands of Granite State families and threatens our economic well-being in New Hampshire. I am proud to reintroduce the Paycheck Fairness Act to help ensure that all hard-working Granite Staters and Americans can earn a fair pay check and have the opportunity to get ahead and stay ahead.” 

The Paycheck Fairness Act would strengthen and close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963 by holding employers accountable for discriminatory practices, ending the practice of pay secrecy, easing workers’ ability to individually or jointly challenge pay discrimination, and strengthening the available remedies for wronged employees.

In the U.S House, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter today co-introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act and highlighted the gender pay gap on Equal Pay Day. 

“Working women are America’s mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives. We’re America’s factory and office workers, health care professionals and scientists, business executives and teachers,” said Shea-Porter. “Women are working everywhere, but in America, in 2017, women still make only 80 cents for every dollar a man earns. Equal pay for equal work is a fairness issue and an economic issue: New Hampshire families rely on women’s wages to make ends meet, and when women are paid less than men for the same work, it affects the whole family.”

Compared to national figures, the disparity in New Hampshire is even greater – the state ranks 47th in the nation for paycheck fairness, according to the National Women’s Law Center, with women in New Hampshire losing an average of $534,120 over a 40-year career due to the gender pay gap.

One key way to start closing the pay gap is for Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which Shea-Porter has co-introduced in each of her four terms. The Paycheck Fairness Act would strengthen the 1963 Equal Pay Act, close loopholes in the law, and provide effective remedies to women who are not being paid equal pay for equal work.

Shea-Porter is a strong advocate for issues that are important to women and families. She co-introduced the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which became law on Jan. 29, 2009 and ensured that Americans subjected to unlawful gender-based pay discrimination can effectively assert their rights under the federal anti-discrimination law. This February, Shea-Porter co-introduced the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, a bill to create a national paid family and medical leave insurance program and ensure that American workers no longer must choose between a paycheck and caring for a family member, and the Child Tax Credit Improvement Act, which would boost the tax break’s value and ensure it keeps up with the costs working parents face, including the quickly-rising cost of childcare.

“In 2017, it is simply unacceptable that women on average earn 80 cents to every dollar men earn,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “This is an injustice not only to women, but also to the many American families that count a woman as the primary or co-breadwinner. It’s long past time we correct this injustice, and I will continue my efforts in Congress to end the pay gap and ensure women receive the compensation they deserve.”

Since taking office, Congresswoman Kuster has been a strong advocate for equal pay for women.  She is a cosponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would help reduce wage disparities between men and women across the country. In addition, she authored a Women’s Economic Agenda, a plan for Congress to prioritize initiatives to reduce pay disparities based on gender and support Granite State women and their families. She has also hosted a series of roundtables to hear directly from women business owners and other professionals all across New Hampshire about what more Congress can do to help Granite State women succeed and receive fair pay in the workplace.

The women senators of the NH Senate Democratic Caucus also released a statement in recognition of Equal Pay Day: 

“Despite decades of research and advocacy, pay discrimination between male and female workers continues to undermine our nation’s fundamental principles of equality. Today, American women on average earn just 80 cents for every dollar earned by men. That disparity increases significantly for women of color. This isn’t just a women’s issue–it’s a family issue and an economic issue.”

“In fact, research conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research finds that ensuring equal pay for every woman in America would cut poverty among working women and their families by more than half and add an estimated $482 billion to the national economy. In New Hampshire, where women earn 76.4 cents for every dollar earned by men, recent studies of the wage gap anticipate that it will take 62 years for working women and men to reach pay parity in our state. And in that time, another generation of women will come and go without receiving just compensation for their contributions.”

“It seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same. We’re not willing to wait until 2079 to resolve the issue of equal pay for equal work. The women of this country and our state have waited long enough.”

Senator Hassan Joins Colleagues in Calling on President Trump to Protect Granite Staters from Higher Health Care Costs

Senator Urges President Trump to Protect Cost-Sharing Subsidies that Help Lower Health Care Costs for Hard-Working Granite Staters 

WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Maggie Hassan joined fellow members of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), including Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), in calling on President Trump to stop efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and to help stabilize the insurance market by protecting the cost-sharing subsidies under the Affordable Care Act that help lower health care costs for hard-working Granite Staters and Americans.

“As we have said, we stand ready to work on improvements to the law that would reduce costs for individuals and improve the stability of the market. But, we cannot work together on commonsense reforms without a strong commitment from your Administration to do no further harm and to halt efforts that have already begun to undermine access to affordable coverage,” the Senators wrote. “We urge you, again, to take action to protect and continue this vital financial assistance for our constituents and all of the health benefits that our families rely on today.” 

More than 6 million Americans enrolled in health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act receive cost-sharing subsidies to help reduce their out-of-pocket costs and deductibles. 

A lawsuit brought by Congressional Republicans, House v. Price (formerly House v. Burwell), seeks to stop ACA cost-sharing subsidies and raise out of pocket costs for hard-working American families. Instead of committing to protect the payments, President Trump and House Republicans further delayed action on this lawsuit – prolonging uncertainty for consumers and insurers – until May 22, 2017. President Trump could take action to halt these subsidy payments, which would force families to lose critical financial assistance and create instability for insurers that could result in plan cancellations.

“Failing to take immediate action to oppose the lawsuit or direct House Republicans to forgo this effort will increase instability in the insurance market, as insurers may choose not to participate in the marketplace in 2018,” the Senators added. “Most importantly, if your Administration stops these payments, it would immediately expose our families to higher insurance costs and could force them to forgo needed care.” 

Last week, Senator Hassan and Senator Shaheen joined their colleagues in urging President Trump and his administration to abandon efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act so that they can work together in a bipartisan fashion to improve the law and lower the cost of health care for all Granite Staters and Americans. 

The full text of the Senators’ letter available here and below.

Letter to Trump Re Cost Sharing

 

Hassan Joins Progressive Senators In Introducing Legislation To Bring Down Prescription Drug Prices

Proposal Improves Upon the Affordable Care Act By
Addressing Skyrocketing Drug Prices

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined Senator Al Franken (D-MN) and others in launching a major push to improve upon the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by bringing down the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs, one of the main reasons why health care costs for seniors and families are rising.

The Improving Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs Act would help ensure that drug companies put patients before profits and bring much-needed relief to families and seniors, including many who have had to make the impossible choice between paying for a life-saving drug and putting food on the table.

“It is long past time for Congress to put patients first by coming together and acting to lower the cost of prescription drugs,” said Senator Hassan. “This major piece of legislation helps ensure that seniors and families can afford the medication they need through common-sense steps including cracking down on bad actors who hike the cost of prescription drugs that have been on the market for years or who play games to prevent competition. I will continue working with anyone who’s serious about addressing the rising costs of prescription drugs and ensuring that all Americans can afford critical care.” 

The landmark proposal, which the Senators said they want to see included in upcoming legislative debates, seeks to tackle prescription drug costs by increasing transparency and accountability, boosting access and affordability of key drugs, spurring innovation, and increasing choice and competition.  

The Senators were joined in introducing this legislative package, which is supported by a wide range of organizations and patient advocacy groups, by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jeff Merkley (OR), Tom Udall (D-NM), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Cory Booker (D-NJ).

You can read more about the legislation by clicking here or reading below:

The Senators’ legislation is supported by:

  • The American Medical Student Association (AMSA)
  • AFSCME
  • Housing Works
  • MoveOn
  • National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare
  • National Physicians Alliance
  • Other98
  • PFAM: People of Faith for Access to Medicines
  • Public Citizen
  • Social Security Works
  • Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM)
  • AFT
  • Doctors for America
  • Center for Medicare Advocacy
  • Alliance for Retired Americans

Improving Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs Act

Title I: Transparency

Section 101: Drug manufacturer reporting.

To better understand how research and development costs, manufacturing and marketing costs, acquisitions, federal investments, revenues and sales, and other factors influence drug prices, this section requires drug manufacturers to disclose this information, by product, to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), who, in turn, will make it publicly available in a searchable format.

Section 102: Determining the public and private benefit of copayment coupons and other patient assistance programs.

To better understand how patient assistance programs affect drug prices and the extent to which drug makers are using independent charity assistance programs to drive up profits, this section requires independent charity assistance programs to disclose to the IRS the total amount of patient assistance provided to patients who are prescribed drugs manufactured by any contributor to the independent charity assistance program. It also requires a GAO study on the impact of patient assistance programs on prescription drug pricing and expenditures. 

Title II: Access and Affordability

Section 201: Negotiating fair prices for Medicare prescription drugs.

Medicare is one of the largest purchasers of prescription drugs in the country but, unlike Medicaid and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), it is not allowed to leverage its purchasing power to negotiate lower drug prices and bring down costs. This section would allow the Secretary of HHS to negotiate with drug companies to lower prescription drug prices, and directs the Secretary to prioritize negotiations on specialty and other high-priced drugs.

Section 202: Prescription drug price spikes.

Prescription drugs are priced in the United States according to whatever the market will bear and are sometimes subject to drastic and frequent price increases without apparent justification. This makes drugs increasingly unaffordable and creates significant uncertainty for patients’ and insurers’ budgets. This section requires the HHS Office of the Inspector General (HHS OIG) to monitor changes in drug prices and take steps to prevent drug manufacturers from engaging in price gouging. 

Section 203: Acceleration of the closing of the Medicare Part D coverage gap.

This section closes the Medicare Part D prescription coverage gap in 2018, two years earlier than under current law, providing faster financial relief to seniors, and requires drug manufacturers to pay a larger share of the costs during the coverage gap.  

Section 204: Importing affordable and safe drugs.

This section allows wholesalers, licensed U.S. pharmacies, and individuals to import qualifying prescription drugs manufactured at FDA-inspected facilities from licensed Canadian sellers and, after two years, from OECD countries that meet standards comparable to U.S. standards.

Section 205: Requiring drug manufacturers to provide drug rebates for drugs dispensed to low-income individuals.

This section restores prescription drug rebates for seniors who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid and extends these rebates to other Medicare patients in Medicare low-income-subsidy plans.

Section 206: Cap on prescription drug cost-sharing.

For plan years beginning in 2019 and later, this section caps prescription drug cost sharing at $250 per month for individuals and $500 a month for families enrolled in Qualified Health Plans and employer-based plans.

 

Title III: Innovation

Section 301: Prize fund for new and more effective treatments of bacterial infections.

This section creates a $2 billion prize fund at the National Institutes of Health to fund entities that develop superior antibiotics that treat serious and life-threatening bacterial infections and to fund research that advances such treatments and is made publicly available. In order to receive prize funds, recipients must commit to offering their products at a reasonable price, share clinical data, and take steps to promote antibiotic stewardship. 

Section 302: Public funding for clinical trials.

This section creates a Center for Clinical Research within the NIH to conduct all stages of clinical trials on drugs that may address an existing or emerging health need. 

Section 303: Rewarding innovative drug development.

This section amends various exclusivity periods awarded by the FDA to brand-name pharmaceutical companies in an effort to accelerate competition in the generic and biologics market. First, the bill modifies the New Chemical Entity (NCE) exclusivity period to allow FDA to accept a generic drug application for the branded product after three years rather than five. Second, this section would add in a requirement that products awarded the 3-year New Clinical Investigation Exclusivity must show significant clinical benefit over existing therapies manufactured by the applicant in the 5-year period preceding the submission of the application. Third, this section reduces the biological product exclusivity from 12 years to 7 years. 

Section 304: Improving program integrity.

This section would terminate any remaining market exclusivity periods on any product found to be in violation of criminal or civil law through a federal or state fraud conviction or settlement in which the company admits fault.

 

Title IV: Choice and Competition

Section 401: Preserving access to affordable generics.

This legislation would make it illegal for brand-name and generic drug manufacturers to enter into anti-competitive agreements in which the brand-name drug manufacturer pays the generic manufacturer to keep more affordable generic equivalents off the market. 

Section 402 and 403: 180-Day exclusivity period amendments regarding first applicant status and agreements to defer commercial marketing.

This section enables FDA to take away the 180-day generic drug exclusivity period from any generic company that enters into anti-competitive pay-for-delay settlements with brand-name drug manufacturers. 

Section 404: Increasing generic drug competition.

This section introduces new reporting requirements and financial incentives to promote and sustain competitive generic markets. 

Section 405: Disallowance of deduction for advertising for prescription drugs.

This section eliminates the tax breaks drug companies receive from the federal government for expenses related to direct-to-consumer advertising.

Section 406: Product hopping.

This section establishes a definition for the term “product hopping” and instructs the FTC to submit a report to Congress on the extent to which companies engage in these anti-competitive practices and their effects on company profits, consumer access, physician prescribing behavior, and broader economic impacts.

Shaheen, Hassan Join 30 Senators to Introduce Bill to Rescind President’s Anti-Climate Executive Order

**The Clean Air, Healthy Kids Act highlights potential threats that Trump’s executive action poses to the economy and environment** 

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined more than 30 U.S. Senators today to introduce legislation to rescind President Trump’s Executive Order that reverses several landmark U.S. initiatives to combat climate change.   

The bill, titled the Clean Air, Healthy Kids Act, would block federal agencies from implementing the actions outlined in the Executive Order signed Tuesday by President Trump. These actions include reevaluating the Clean Power Plan, which is currently on track to provide $54 billion in climate and health benefits each year, prevent thousands of premature deaths and asthma attacks in children, reduce electricity bills for homes and businesses, and create thousands of good-paying jobs. 

Yesterday, Senators Shaheen and Hassan released the following statements on President Trump’s Executive Order:

“President Trump is ignoring the mountain of evidence on climate change and plowing ahead with a dangerous agenda that threatens the health and well-being of New Hampshire,” said Shaheen. “Rolling back carbon emissions rules and clean energy initiatives is a shortsighted political move that prioritizes the interests of big oil and coal companies over every day Americans. In New Hampshire, we see the effects of climate change every day and it is a direct threat to our environment, economy and way of life. We owe it to future generations to build on the Clean Power Plan and the Paris Agreement in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”

“From our White Mountains to our beautiful Seacoast, New Hampshire’s beautiful natural resources define us as a state and I am extremely concerned by President Trump’s efforts to roll back the Clean Power Plan’s common-sense environmental protections,” said Senator Hassan. “Granite Staters know that protecting our environment while building a stronger, more affordable energy future is critical for our families and our businesses. New Hampshire has been a leader in efforts to cut carbon emissions, conserve our natural resources, and combat climate change and we need to see similar efforts at the federal level. That’s why I have been a strong supporter of the Clean Power Plan, and I will continue fighting for a cleaner environment and stronger renewable energy future that reduces our dependence on fossil fuels and helps our citizens, businesses, and economy thrive.” 

A copy of the bill is available HERE.

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