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Kuster Says Trumpcare “Reneges” On Promises Made To Veterans

Kuster Joins Duckworth, Veterans in Congress to Criticize Trumpcare’s Devastating Tax Hike on Millions of Veterans

(Washington, DC) — Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) joined combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee Jack Reed (D-RI), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Tim Walz (D-MN), and several others to criticize President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress for attempting to impose a tax hike on millions of Veterans’ healthcare. Despite the President’s campaign pledge to “ensure our Veterans get the care they need wherever and whenever they need it,” a last-minute amendment proposed to the Republican healthcare repeal plan would make Veterans ineligible for health care tax credits that could help them afford private health insurance. 

This week, Republicans introduced an amendment to the American Health Care Act that would prohibit veterans who are “eligible” to receive VA care from receiving any tax credits to help pay for care outside the VA, even if they are not enrolled in the VA. In addition to preventing veterans from access to affordable health care options, forcing veterans to seek care at the VA could create a significant influx of veterans enrolling in the VA at a time when the VA is not equipped to enroll them quickly. This is particularly a concern in light of President Trump’s hiring freeze.

“It’s unacceptable that House Republicans would jeopardize the healthcare of millions of veterans by continuing their irresponsible and shoddy late night changes to the American Health Care Act,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “It’s bad enough that this bill would already leave tens of millions of Americans without health insurance and now it’s reneging on our promise to the men and women who have served in uniform. Making it harder for veterans to afford health insurance is un-American and nonsensical. I was proud to join Senator Duckworth and my colleagues today to denounce this misguided proposal.”

“We already know that this President has a record of breaking his promises, but pushing a plan that makes it harder for millions of Veterans to get the health care they deserve after he promised to improve care for our Veterans is disgraceful,” said Senator Duckworth. “Either the President and House Republicans are intentionally sacrificing Veterans and putting them on a chopping block, or they wrote this bill so haphazardly that they don’t know what’s in it. It makes you wonder: what else don’t we know about this bill?” 

“Trumpcare would do a real disservice to our veterans and working Americans,” said Senator Jack Reed (D-RI).  “Every time Republicans rewrite and revise the bill it just gets worse and worse.  The underlying principle of Trumpcare is a massive tax cut for millionaires and higher costs and less coverage for everyone else.  The only element of Trumpcare that seems constant is the fact it would shift a heavier financial burden onto older Americans, veterans, working families, and all fifty states.  Americans deserve better.” 

“In a desperate attempt to keep AHCA from failing on the House floor, Congressional Republicans introduced a poorly thought out amendment that puts millions of veterans at risk of losing access to their current healthcare or forcing them to seek care through the VA,” added Ranking Member Tim Walz. “For many veterans and their families, AHCA will leave them with no affordable insurance options. It is absolutely shameful that some in members of the House feel so strongly about passing such a substantially unvetted health bill that they would put the health of our nation’s heroes at risk. I call on Republican colleagues to immediately address this issue before moving forward with any health care related legislation.”

Also joining Duckworth, Reed, Walz, and Kuster today were Representatives Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Mark Takano (D-CA), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Anthony Brown (D-MD) and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA). 

“It is irresponsible that Republicans would rob 7 Million veterans of both the options to get care through the VA system and the option to access affordable private health plans,” said Representative Gallego. “That is a disgrace. The GOP should drop this bill immediately.”

“The potential harm the American Health Care Act inflicts on veterans across the country is inexcusable. It reflects the rushed and reckless strategy for passing this bill, and it demonstrates little understanding of how America’s 22 million veterans access health care,” said Congressman Takano. “I sincerely hope my colleagues across the aisle will take the time to understand the serious consequences their bill will have for veterans and their families, who have already sacrificed so much for the country.” 

“House Republicans are so intent on recklessly forcing their healthcare bill through Congress, that they have made their repeal of healthcare for 24 million Americans even more destructive – preventing over 7 million veterans from receiving tax credits to offset healthcare costs,” said Congressman Carbajal. “It is cruel for this legislation to leave behind millions of veterans and their families who were willing to risk their lives to defend our democracy.” 

“This amendment, which would strip health care from at least 7 million veterans, is a yet another example of how the quickly, carelessly crafted AHCA would hurt Americans,” said Congressman Panetta. “Through my experience with the Veterans Transition Center on the central coast of California, I saw firsthand how important it is for veterans to have a choice when it comes to the health care they receive. The AHCA takes away that choice.”

“As a nation, we must support our veterans in recovering from the harsh and sometimes traumatic experiences they undergo,” said Congressman Brown. “This means putting the full weight of a responsive mental health system at their disposal. The disastrous GOP repeal bill makes this impossible. Not only does TrumpCare strip millions of veterans of their ability to afford high-quality insurance, but it denies our service members of critical mental health, substance use, and behavioral health services. This is not only wrong but shameful. The rushed GOP repeal bill completely misses the mark and ignores the responsibility to safeguard and take care of our veterans, who have sacrificed so much to protect our nation.”

Full video of the press conference is available here and below.

US House Passes Bill To Arbitrarily Fire Workers At The VA, Bypassing The Union’s Due Process

Yesterday, in a largely party line vote of 237-178, the U.S. House passed, “H.R.1259 – VA Accountability First Act of 2017.” A bill that would allow the Secretary of the VA to arbitrarily fire workers without any due process. HR 1259 was written and sponsored by Tennessee Republican, Rep David Roe (R-TN-1) who also cosponsored legislation to revoke the Department of Labor’s new rule mandating employers keep records on all workplace injuries.

The Hill explains:

The bill would give the VA secretary expedited removal authority, meaning any employee fired by the secretary would be out of a job and off the department’s rolls that day.

…One point of conflict in the legislation was the elimination of the union grievance process available to represented employees as a means to appeal negative personnel actions. About 76 percent of VA’s workforce is represented by a union, and Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee and author of the accountability bill, has complained the grievance process takes an average of 350 days to complete. The American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 230,000 VA employees, called the legislation ‘a union-busting bill, plain and simple.

…A spokeswoman for Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said the senator is still “exploring options” for a bill that can pass the Senate. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has introduced companion legislation for Roe’s House-backed measure. Isakson himself said he is committed to working with his House colleagues and Democrats on his committee to move accountability legislation forward.

“I’m committed to moving legislation that gives Secretary Shulkin the tools to discipline bad employees,” Isakson said. “Accountability reform is a top priority.” The senator authored bipartisan legislation in the last Congress to expedite the firing process at VA, but it stalled in the Senate after clearing his committee.

This bill is designed to bypass the American Federation of Government Employees grievance procedures and weaken the union’s ability to represent workers.  David Cox Sr., National President of AFGE released the following after the bill passed the House.

“The House has passed a venomous piece of legislation from Rep. Phil Roe of Tennessee that would undermine the government’s sacred obligation to serve our veterans by gutting frontline employees’ basic worker rights at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“Make no mistake – this legislation is not about improving accountability at the VA, and it certainly won’t improve veterans’ access to quality care and earned benefits. This is part of an orchestrated attack on the rights of federal workers and employee unions that’s ripped from the playbook of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

“While we are deterred by the House’s action, we are not defeated. We will fight this bill when it goes before the Senate, and we will continue to make the case to lawmakers and the public that attacking the rights of working-class men and women at the VA and across government is counterproductive to our shared goal of providing the best service to the American taxpayers.”

The AFl-CIO was also displeased with the passage of this legislation calling it a “slap in the face” to the workers at the VA.

“Yesterday, instead of standing up for working families, 10 Democrats in Congress joined with Republicans in attacking workers at the VA. Their support of this anti-worker legislation is not only a slap in the face to the 120,000 VA employees who are themselves veterans, but a betrayal of the promise to treat all VA workers fairly,” said Bill Samuel, AFL-CIO Director of Government Affairs. 

Everyone agrees that the VA needs help.  They are understaffed, overloaded, and underfunded, but the ability to arbitrarily fire hard working people at the VA will do nothing to solve any of these problems.

The reforms Congress should be looking for would include ones like the amendment submitted by Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH01) to improve VA hiring of mental health professionals.

Congress must also accept that additional resources are necessary to hire more doctors and nurses at VA health centers and to reduce the delays many veterans face in getting the care they need.  This would include spending money to merge the DOD’s and the VA health records system.

Another major issue facing the VA is that 20 veterans commit suicide every day.  Many of these vets are suffering from PTSD and are unable to get the care they need. NH Congresswoman Annie Kuster (D-NH-1), a member of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, is working with the newly appointed Secretary of Veterans Affairs, David Shulkin, to address this ongoing epidemic.

“The men and women who have served our nation in uniform cannot be cast aside once they have returned home,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “The suicide rate among veterans is a tragedy and it’s long past time we came together to address this challenge.”

“The president and I have made it clear that suicide prevention is one of our top priorities,” Secretary Shulkin said in a statement. “We know the rate of death by suicide among Veterans who do not use VA care is increasing at a greater rate than Veterans who use VA care. This is a national emergency that requires bold action. We must and we will do all that we can to help former service members who may be at risk. When we say even one Veteran suicide is one too many, we mean it.”

So while 20 veterans a day commit suicide and the thousands that die every year awaiting care should be the top priority of the President and Congress, but instead they are choosing to attack the very workers who are trying to help fix this broken system and get care to those who desperately need it.

Trump’s Budget Is A Disaster

NH Elected Leaders Along With National Labor And
Environmental Leaders Respond To Trump’s Proposed Cuts.

President Trump unveiled his $1.1 trillion dollar budget for discretionary spending yesterday. Elected leaders, labor unions, environmental groups, and advocates for working people are outraged at the massive cuts.

The Hill reports:

The 54-page “America First” document, focused primarily on fiscal 2018, would boost the Defense Department and related programs at Energy by $54 billion, and Homeland Security by $2.8 billion. It would offset such increases by cutting the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development by $10.1 billion (28 percent) and the Environmental Protection Agency by $2.6 billion (31 percent). The latter cut would eliminate approximately 3,200 positions, according to the document.

The agency-by-agency plans include eliminating dozens of grant programs at the Education and Commerce departments—many of them related to climate change. And Trump would eliminate the following agencies:

The African Development Foundation; the Appalachian Regional Commission; the Chemical Safety Board; the Corporation for National and Community Service; the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; the Delta Regional Authority; the Denali Commission; the Institute of Museum and Library Services; the Inter-American Foundation; the U.S. Trade and Development Agency; the Legal Services Corporation; the National Endowment for the Arts; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation; the Northern Border Regional Commission; the Overseas Private Investment Corporation; the United States Institute of Peace; the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness; and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

“The Trump administration should immediately go back to the drawing board,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). “This budget is a blueprint for undermining the health and well-being of Granite Staters and would be particularly devastating for seniors. It’s needless and cruel to drastically cut programs that so many people in New Hampshire depend on like Meals on Wheels and heating assistance. It also makes no sense to cut clean air and water programs, coastal protection, and economic development to struggling rural communities.

“President Trump’s budget is built for corporate special interests, not hard-working families and small businesses. The Trump budget makes indiscriminate cuts that will make it harder for entrepreneurs to grow job-creating small businesses, harder for children to access a high-quality public education, and harder for seniors to stay in their own homes and live independently,” said Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH).  “President Trump’s budget would undermine efforts to strengthen our health care workforce, making it more difficult to combat the heroin, fentanyl and opioid crisis. It would slash funding for life-saving medical research. And it would cripple our ability to fight climate change, which threatens New Hampshire’s economy and our way of life.”

“A budget is a moral document. As an American, I’m deeply concerned about the drastic cuts President Trump has proposed in this budget blueprint, which fail to reflect our shared morals and values. As your representative in Congress, I will fight to stop this budget, which would hurt New Hampshire in so many ways,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH01). “As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I’m particularly concerned that this budget reflects an incomplete understanding of how we keep our nation safe. Since World War II, our international affairs budget has been key to maintaining stability around the globe, and cutting critical international aid and diplomatic funding would be disastrous for our national security.”

“Today’s budget would even eliminate programs that feed the hungry, including after-school nutrition assistance and Meals on Wheels. Contrary to the Administration’s outrageous statements at this afternoon’s press briefing, these programs do work, and cutting them is the exact opposite of ‘compassionate.’ I will not stand by while this Administration uses falsehoods to justify destroying vital support systems for our most vulnerable citizens. Today I will be sending the Trump administration just a few of the dozens of peer-reviewed studies that show Meals on Wheels improves seniors’ overall health and nutritional intake and reduces social isolation. This budget is yet one more example of President Trump turning his back on the very people he claimed he was there to help,” Shea-Porter added. 

“President Trump’s preliminary budget proposal is simply a disaster for our economy, environment, seniors, and hardworking families in New Hampshire and across the country,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster (D-NH02). “This budget proposal should raise red flags for anyone who wants to grow our middle class, create good paying jobs, protect human health and our environment, and fight climate change. We can’t turn back the clock on the progress we’ve made in recent years to get our economy pointed in the right direction and this budget is little more than a return to the same failed policies of the past. President Trump needs to seriously reconsider this approach and focus on crafting a budget proposal that benefits all Americans, not just those at the very top.”

Kuster also highlighted cuts to programs that directly impact New Hampshire working families.

“In New Hampshire, we know the serious impact toxic contamination can have on drinking water, public health, and quality of life. Slashing thirty one percent of the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget will only make defending public health and our environment more difficult. Cutting the Department of Health and Human Services by thirteen percent will eliminate the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and harm programs like Meals on Wheels and home visits that our seniors and low-income families rely on.”

Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO called this budget proposal “destructive and dangerous.”

“Working people in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin didn’t vote for a budget that slashes workforce training and fails to invest in our nation’s infrastructure. President Trump’s proposed budget attempts to balance the budget on the backs of working families. The $54 billion cut to programs that benefit working families is dangerous and destructive. Huge cuts to the departments of Labor, Education and Transportation will make workplaces less safe, put more children at risk and make improving our failing infrastructure much more difficult. The administration can and should do better.”

David Cox Sr., National President of the American Federation of Government Employees warned that this budget would lead to massive layoffs. 

“This budget shirks our nation’s responsibility to care for its citizens and ensure the public’s health and safety, help our struggling neighbors secure better jobs and safe housing, and promote democracy around the world,” Cox stated. “The severity of the budget cuts proposed by President Trump could require mass layoffs of employees at federal departments and agencies, although the budget blueprint released by the White House does not detail how many federal employees could lose their jobs.

“This cuts, if implemented, would have devastating and lasting consequences on the nation. Every American should study the facts, reject the rhetoric, and decide for themselves if they share the bleak vision of America that President Trump is promoting,” Cox added. 

Ed Wytkind, President of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), said these cuts take our transportation infrastructure in the wrong direction. 

“The austerity measures offered for transportation in the President’s budget blueprint go in the wrong direction and must be rejected. We cannot cut our way to a better and more modern transportation system. The President has rightfully called for a historic $1 trillion investment in our transportation system and infrastructure. But the budget released today does not advance that vision and instead would deal a severe blow to many key investment programs that are critical to our passenger and freight transportation network.”  

“This budget proposal makes it even more clear that Trump has no intention of protecting our communities or preserving our future,” said 350.org Executive Director May Boeve. “Slashing the EPA’s funding only helps make fossil fuel executives richer while wrecking the climate and leaving workers and families by the wayside. What we really need is investment in a 100% renewable energy economy that creates jobs and curbs the climate crisis, and our movements will keep fighting until we get it.”

Kuster Discusses Importance of Affordable Care Act in Peterborough

Congresswoman Kuster discusses the importance of the ACA at Monadnock Community Hospital

(Peterborough, NH) –  Yesterday, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) joined healthcare providers and advocates as well as town and regional leaders in Peterborough to discuss the importance of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in rural communities. The discussion comes as Republicans in Congress are pushing legislation to repeal the law.  

“I remain very troubled by the reckless efforts of Republicans in Washington to repeal the ACA,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “The ACA is not perfect, but coverage through the law has been a critical component in fighting the heroin and opioid epidemic by providing access to recovery and treatment services. Uninsured residents in rural areas of New Hampshire have been reduced by half, and nearly 50,000 New Hampshire residents have access to private health insurance on the New Hampshire Exchange through Medicaid expansion.  Meanwhile, the Republican health care proposal would increase costs, limit access, and cover fewer Americans. I’m willing to work with Republicans and Democrats to improve the ACA, but I will not support a plan that will undo the progress that has been made the last few years.”   

Kuster was joined by Dr. Michael Lindberg, Chief Medical Officer at Monadnock Community Hospital (MCH), and other senior officials at MCH; as well as Jennifer Frizzell, Vice President of Public Policy at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England; and Sean Ryan, Executive Director at Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, among others.

“Monadnock Community Hospital (MCH) was honored to host Congresswoman Annie Kuster in a roundtable discussion on the anticipated repeal of the Affordable Care Act,” said Dr. Michael Lindberg, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Monadnock Community Hospital. “Here at MCH, our mission is to improve the health and well-being of our community. We affirm the importance of health insurance that has been made available to thousands of New Hampshire residents who could not afford coverage prior to the Affordable Care Act. We also support the New Hampshire Hospital Association’s concern that any roll-backs in Medicaid coverage for New Hampshire residents could present significant hardship to our patients who rely upon it for coverage.”

NH Congressional Delegation Responds To New Report On GOP Healthcare Plan

Yesterday the independent, nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its analysis of the Republican health care bill, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and the results are staggering.  

The CBO estimates that 24 million more people will be uninsured in 2026 if the Republicans in Washington force through their healthcare alternative.

Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans called the AHCA an assault on older Americans. “This bill will make Americans sicker and poorer. President Trump promised to replace the ACA with a plan that expanded health care coverage at a lower cost. This plan does neither but rather provides the wealthiest Americans and insurance corporations with enormous tax cuts.”   

“This nonpartisan report from the Congressional Budget Office confirms our worst fears about the catastrophic impact of Trumpcare,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “President Trump and Republican leadership do not have a mandate to throw 24 million Americans off of their healthcare. Trumpcare would result in higher healthcare costs and less coverage which will be devastating for Granite Staters. It would also roll back the progress we have made in combating the opioid epidemic. I’ll continue to stand up for Granite State families and fight against this partisan attempt to undermine healthcare coverage in this country. Republican leadership in Congress should withdraw this disastrous bill and work with Democrats to improve the Affordable Care Act.”

“Today’s report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office confirms that Trumpcare would lead to huge premium hikes for Granite Staters and people across America,” said Senator Maggie Hassan. “According to the CBO, if you buy your own health insurance, under Trumpcare your premiums will go up by an average of 15-20% over the next two years, and premium increases will be even worse if you are between the ages of 50-65. Meanwhile, health insurance CEOs will receive a new tax break as hard-working Granite Staters see their premiums spike and 24 million Americans lose their coverage. I will continue to fight back against this misguided Trumpcare legislation.”

“Today’s estimate by the independent Congressional Budget Office that 14 million Americans would lose their insurance next year under the Republican health plan should be the nail in the coffin for this draconian proposal, which would not only take away Americans’ insurance but also slash Medicaid, end Medicaid expansion, roll back requirements that insurance cover basic medical services, increase deductibles, and raise premiums for older Americans – all while slashing taxes for the wealthiest,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01).  “According to CBO, 24 million people would lose their coverage by 2026, meaning the Republican plan not only erases the gains we’ve made since the Affordable Care Act but would actually leave fewer people with coverage than before the law passed. Now that the Republican health bill’s devastating impact has been laid out in black and white, it’s time for President Trump and Congressional Republicans to join the American people and the health care industry in rejecting this harmful bill, and instead come to the table to find bipartisan solutions that make our health care system work better for everyone.”

“Today’s news only confirmed what we already knew – the Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act would increase costs, limit access, and cover fewer Americans. This reckless plan jeopardizes the health and safety of Granite State families and Americans nationwide, as it rips away healthcare from millions while asking millions more to pay higher costs for less coverage,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02).  “The Affordable Care Act is not perfect, and I’m willing to work with Republicans and Democrats to improve the law, but not at the expense of the healthcare of New Hampshire middle class families and seniors.”

Kuster continued, “The plan would cut Medicaid spending and phase out the expansion, which has helped thousands of people in New Hampshire access health insurance and has increased treatment and recovery services for those struggling with substance use disorders. Repealing health care subsidies would drive up costs for seniors and less healthy individuals, and provisions to defund Planned Parenthood do nothing to increase access to care. Appallingly, the plan is a giveaway to the wealthiest Americans, even including a tax break for insurance CEOs making more than half a million dollars. I continue to urge my Republican colleagues to abandon this dangerous plan and instead come to the table in good faith to help improve the system for all Americans.”

Raymond Buckley of the NH Democratic Party called on Governor Sununu to “provide his opinion” on the newly proposed legislation and how it will hurt efforts to combat the opioid crisis in NH.

“Trumpcare’s fatal flaw is what it does to older and low income Americans. This CBO projection means that some Americans will pay more than five times what they do for coverage today. That kind of premium hike on our most vulnerable is flat wrong. That’s not to mention the 24 million Americans are projected to lose coverage in the next ten years under Trumpcare. Any plan that hikes rates and kicks tens of millions off their coverage should be denounced in loud terms but Governor Sununu has yet to provide his opinion on how the specifics in this bill will impact Granite Staters.”

“Republican governors across the country have rejected this bill from day one, including neighboring governors Paul LePage and Charlie Baker. If Governor Sununu is serious about combatting the opioid crisis and ensuring care to those who need it, he’ll stand with the large number of Republicans and Democrats across the country loudly rejecting this bill rather than sticking his finger into the political winds or trying to please the President,” concluded Buckley. 

“Adding insult to injury, this plan significantly weakens Medicare, reducing the solvency of the trust fund by 3 years — breaking President Trump’s promise to protect Medicare. In contrast, the ACA extended the Trust Fund’s solvency by 11 years.  Older Americans know how important affordable health care is for their families and will continue to fight against this proposal. The members of the Alliance call on Congress to scrap this bill immediately,” added Fiesta. 

New Hampshire Congressional Delegation Strongly Opposes GOP Repeal Of ACA

This week, Republicans released their new plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and replace it with something much worse.

“House Republicans should be ashamed of their new bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would hurt New Hampshire workers and families by ending Medicaid expansion, driving up premiums, leaving fewer people with coverage than before the law passed, and setting us back in the fight against the heroin, fentanyl, and opioid epidemic,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. “Despite months of pleas from their own constituents, who are terrified about losing their coverage, House Republicans have written a bill that shows total disregard for the people they are supposed to represent and instead bows to special interests. Unbelievably, after almost eight years, House Republicans still refuse to say how much their plan would cost and how many people it would force off their coverage – Republican leadership is trying to jam their bill through before the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office even has the chance to score it. Instead of House Republicans’ backroom approach, the American people deserve an honest bipartisan debate on a bill that doesn’t erase the Affordable Care Act’s progress in driving the uninsured rate to the lowest on record, but instead makes needed fixes and improvements to our health care system to ensure all Granite Staters have access to affordable, quality healthcare.”

Congresswoman Kuster said the ACA is “not perfect” but “their proposal would increase costs, limit access, and cover fewer Americans” in her statement.

“It’s clear why Republicans in the House felt it necessary to keep this Affordable Care Act repeal plan hidden behind lock and key. Their proposal would increase costs, limit access, and cover fewer Americans. The Affordable Care Act is not perfect, and I’m willing to work with Republicans and Democrats to improve the law, but not at the expense of the healthcare of thousands of Granite Staters and millions of Americans nationwide,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. 

“The plan would cut Medicaid spending and phase out the expansion, which has helped thousands of people in New Hampshire access health insurance and has increased treatment and recovery services for those struggling with substance use disorders. Repealing health care subsidies would drive up costs for seniors and less healthy individuals, and provisions to defund providers such as Planned Parenthood do nothing to increase access to care. This is a huge giveaway to the wealthiest Americans, and the plan appallingly even includes a tax break for insurance CEOs making more than half a million dollars. I urge my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to rethink this misguided approach and instead come to the table in good faith to help improve the system for all Americans,” Kuster added. 

The Alliance for Retired Americans called the bill “another tax giveaway” to the wealthiest Americans and would “gut” the Medicare Trust Fund.

“After seven years Republicans have finally shown us what their repeal of Obamacare looks like. It would be a disaster for older and working Americans and for our health care system,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “The bill repeals the increase in the Medicare payroll tax for high earners. That will reduce the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund by 4 years, from 2029 to 2025. This is an insult to the fifty-seven million Medicare beneficiaries who have earned their guaranteed Medicare benefits, and many millions more who contribute to Medicare expecting it to be there when they retire.   

“The bill also cuts federal funding for Medicaid by $560 billion over 10 years. Cuts of this magnitude will force states to make deep cuts in the number of people who receive benefits, or the amount of health care provided. Over 70 million beneficiaries rely on Medicaid, including almost 6 million seniors who depend on it for their nursing home and home care services. The GOP’s message is, ‘Sorry, you’re out of luck.’

“Republicans have topped this off by changing the age rating for older Americans from 3:1 to 5:1, or even greater in some states. Enabling insurers to charge older Americans that much more will greatly increase costs for people over the age of 50,” Fiesta concluded. 

Senator Jeanne Shaheen said the bill would hurt middle class families in New Hampshire and across the U.S.

“This repeal bill would be nothing short of a disaster for healthcare coverage in New Hampshire and a devastating blow to our efforts to combat the opioid epidemic,” said Shaheen. “This is clearly a broken promise by President Trump and Republican leadership who assured the American public that nobody would be kicked off of their healthcare coverage. It’s unconscionable that this bill would decimate the Medicaid program and eliminate healthcare subsidies for the middle class while the wealthy get another tax break and insurance company CEOs get a pay bump. The bill also defunds Planned Parenthood, jeopardizing vital preventative and reproductive care for thousands of women in New Hampshire. It took Republican leadership seven years to come up with this repeal bill.  This proposal clearly demonstrates why Republican leadership should keep the Affordable Care Act and finally commit to working across the aisle to improve it.” 

Senator Maggie Hassan spoke out against the new House bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act and New Hampshire’s bipartisan Medicaid expansion plan, force older Americans and middle class families to pay more while providing tax breaks for insurance CEOs and the wealthiest Americans, force drastic cuts to New Hampshire’s traditional Medicaid program for children, seniors and people with disabilities, and defund Planned Parenthood.

At a press conference in the Capitol with Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Chris Murphy (D-CT), Senator Hassan specifically highlighted the devastating impact that the House bill would have on New Hampshire’s bipartisan Medicaid expansion plan and efforts to combat the heroin, fentanyl and opioid crisis.

“Make no mistake – this so-called replacement plan would end Medicaid expansion, which experts have said is the most important tool available to fight the substance use crisis. The House Republican plan also hurts children, seniors and people with disabilities with drastic federal cuts to the traditional Medicaid program. It would force states to either cut services our citizens need or to raise taxes,” said Senator Hassan.

Senator Hassan added, “Repealing Medicaid expansion would severely hurt the ability of those on the front lines to save lives and turn the tide of this deadly substance abuse epidemic. Substance use treatment providers have been clear that if Medicaid expansion is repealed, they will have to significantly cut back on the help that they can provide to those in need. To pull the rug out from millions of people across the country who are seeking a lifeline from the throes of addiction is the height of irresponsibility. And we cannot – and we will not – let it happen.”

NH Congressional Representatives Speak Out After Trump’s Address

Last night, President Trump addressed a joint session of Congress. The address is the President’s opportunity to lay out his agenda for the next year.

Full Text of the speech here

After the speech concluded, New Hampshire Congressional representatives spoke out about Trump’s agenda.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen:

“This evening, President Trump addressed many issues important to Granite Staters and I am committed to working across the aisle on areas of common ground such as combatting the opioid epidemic, rebuilding our infrastructure, providing paid family leave, and lowering the cost of prescription drugs. However, I’m disappointed that many of his promises were significantly undermined by the policies he put forward.” 

“It’s time for President Trump and Republican leadership in Congress to move on from their reckless threats of repealing the Affordable Care Act and begin discussions about how we can work across the aisle to improve the law, lower costs and expand coverage. The healthcare proposals put forward by President Trump this evening will reduce coverage and affordability for thousands of Granite Staters.”

“In his speech, President Trump again promised to expand substance misuse treatment just one day after proposing a budget outline that would force severe cuts to domestic programs that are critical to supporting New Hampshire’s efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.  Doubling down on repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the drastic cuts to the Medicaid program ‎he promised will negate the progress we have made, setting us back in the fight against drug misuse. Once again, the policies put forward by President Trump don’t line up with his promises.”

“I was also troubled that the President passed up another opportunity to send a truly unifying message to the American people. It’s disheartening to again hear him advocate for his un-American Muslim ban executive order and malign immigrants who continue to enrich the fabric of our nation.”

Senator Maggie Hassan: 

“I attended tonight’s address listening intently for signs President Trump understands the challenges we face in New Hampshire, but what we heard reemphasized that this President will never acknowledge the true dangers of his agenda. I was disappointed that President Trump used tonight’s address to double down on backward policies that would harm our efforts to combat the heroin, fentanyl and opioid crisis, take away health insurance coverage from tens of thousands of Granite Staters, and make deep budget cuts that would hurt New Hampshire’s middle class families and economy.

“I brought Ashley Hurteau from Dover as my guest to tonight’s speech because I wanted to highlight our ongoing efforts to combat the substance abuse epidemic. Ashley is now in recovery from heroin addiction after she was able to access substance abuse treatment because of New Hampshire’s bipartisan Medicaid expansion plan. But President Trump has made clear that he supports efforts to eliminate this plan, undermining our efforts to stem the tide of this crisis. I will continue fighting for Ashley, and all Granite Staters, who are struggling with addiction and receiving treatment due to Medicaid expansion.

“While I remain willing to work with the Trump Administration when they are willing to be constructive on priorities that will drive our economy forward and keep our nation safe, it is troubling that President Trump is more focused on a partisan, anti-middle class agenda that would pull our country and economy backward.”

Congresswoman Annie Kuster:

“This evening, I listened as President Trump outlined his vision for America, and I hope he now moves away from the politics of division that have been a hallmark of his campaign and time in office. As we know the Devil is in the details, and I will carefully examine President Trump’s proposals as they are put forward. I stand ready to seek areas of common ground to advance policies shared by both Republicans and Democrats. We can address the opioid epidemic, we can fix our roads and bridges, we can improve care for our veterans, and we can support families with commonsense paid family leave. But we can only do these things if we sit down and work together. I’m ready to do so, I hope Republicans are too.

“However, I will not stand by quietly if the Administration puts the interests of the few ahead of the many. We must fully investigate Trump’s conflicts of interest to ensure our country is always put before business. We cannot turn back the clock on the progress we have made. We must defend the values of inclusivity and acceptance that make America truly great. We cannot jeopardize the healthcare of thousands of Granite Staters by recklessly repealing the Affordable Care Act. I’m committed to protecting the rights of women to make their own healthcare decisions. I’m committed to strengthening Social Security and Medicare for our seniors, and I’m committed to ensuring that members of the LGBTQ community are safe from discrimination.” 

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter:

“In his first forty days in office, President Trump has created deep divisions in our country. He has disregarded the fundamental values our nation was built on: tolerance for religious and ethnic diversity, freedom of the press, and the rule of law.

“President Trump spoke falsely tonight when he claimed we are experiencing the worst financial recovery in more than half a century. The fact is, when President Obama took office on January 20, 2009, we were losing 700,000 jobs a month, and at this point in his term we had already passed a bipartisan jobs bill that 9 out of 10 economists agree saved our country from a Great Depression. We have now had 76 straight months of private-sector job growth thanks to President Obama’s leadership.

“Tonight, President Trump mentioned economic priorities I strongly support – investing in infrastructure and enacting tax relief for the middle class – but the truth is that almost half of his first 100 days have passed with zero action on these priorities.

“There is no better example of words without action than his Affordable Care Act rhetoric, which is being confronted with the reality that tens of thousands in New Hampshire now have access to care, even if they have a pre-existing condition that would have excluded them from coverage before, and even if they need treatment for substance abuse or PTSD. Our health care system has changed for the better, and the people of this nation have said loud and clear: we’re not going back.

“The only actions Donald Trump has taken as President are dragging us backwards, not forwards. In his speech, President Trump boasted about his hiring freeze for ‘non-essential’ federal workers. But the truth is, the men and women at the Manchester VA Medical Center who work to ensure our veterans get the care they deserve, are essential. The workers who have made our Shipyard the best in the world, like Paul O’Connor, my guest for tonight’s speech, are essential. There are countless men and women working in New Hampshire and across the country who President Trump doesn’t see, but we know they are the key to our nation’s prosperity.

“President Trump’s vision of our country excludes so many of the people who make New Hampshire great. His speech propagated anti-immigrant sentiments that cannot coexist with our proud history as a nation of immigrants. Our immigrant neighbors in New Hampshire are not violent criminals; they are our doctors, our students, our small business owners. We must not allow his divisive rhetoric to obscure the principles on which our Founders built this nation.

“Finally, we must acknowledge what President Trump left unsaid tonight. The American people have unanswered questions about his financial holdings, and especially about his ties to Russia. The first forty days of his Presidency have been defined by chaos and resignations. Until President Trump discloses the information we the people demand about his conflicts of interest, we cannot trust anything he says, including his speech tonight.”

Congresswoman Shea-Porter’s guest, Paul O’Connor, former president of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard’s Metal Trades Council, who recently retired after 40 years of civilian service and now serves as an IBEW International Representative, said:

“The vision for America President Trump outlined tonight is wrong for the working men and women in New Hampshire. We need fair wages, good healthcare, fair immigration policies, and a government that works for people, not profits. The working men and women of New Hampshire will not be fooled by this President’s hollow promises, but will judge him by his actions, which so far have failed to reflect the values that make our country truly great.”

Kuster introduces legislation aimed at increasing STEM learning in early education

Congresswoman Kuster introduces her new early education STEM legislation at the Child and Family Development Center at NHTI 

(Concord, NH) – This morning, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) introduced legislation aimed at increasing STEM learning in early education during a visit to the Child and Family Development Center at NHTI-Concord’s Community College. The legislation will establish a competitive grant program under the jurisdiction of the Department of Education to provide assistance for early childhood STEM programs and teacher training that meet certain requirements.

“There is an ever growing demand for jobs in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, yet data show we are not doing enough to train students in these skills,” Congresswoman Kuster said. “This legislation will help provide teachers and schools the tools they need to prepare the workforce of tomorrow.  When I return to Washington, I will get back to work urging my colleagues in the House of Representatives to immediately pass this legislation, so we can best ensure hands-on learning for our future workforce and economy.”

Joining Congresswoman Kuster at the event were representatives from NHTI, Early Learning NH, Every Child Matters and Moms Rising-New Hampshire, among others.

“Early Learning NH is grateful to Congresswoman Kuster for introducing an important bill to support early childhood education programs’ ability to promote essential learning in the early years,” said Jackie Cowell, Executive of Early Learning NH.   “STEM learning, along with its accompanying learning in the essential life skills of perseverance, problem solving, curiosity, and the ability to work well in teams, is critical for today’s youngest children to help them become the productive citizens of tomorrow.  The Kindergartners we met today will graduate from high school in 2030.  Since many of them will hold jobs that haven’t even been invented yet, how do we prepare them for the complex world they will inherit?  This bill addresses just that – the answer is promoting STEM learning in the earliest years.” 

“Moms Rising is very eager to support initiatives that help to increase the quality of early childhood education programs, such as this new focus on STEM in early learning,” said Christina D’Allesandro, state director of Moms Rising. “Increasing access to high quality affordable early learning is a high priority for MomsRising members both in New Hampshire and nationwide.”

“NHTI has been a leader in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education in the state of New Hampshire since we were founded in 1965,” said Susan B. Dunton, NHTI President. “As the demand for a workforce educated in the STEM fields promises only to grow in the future, introducing students to the STEM fields at the earliest possible opportunity is critical.  Rep. Kuster’s proposal is an important step in helping achieve this shared goal of making STEM an integral part of Early Childhood Education. “

Congresswomen Kuster And Shea-Porter Vote Against Cuts To Women’s Healthcare Access Through ‘Title X’ Funding

Yesterday, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) voted against a misguided Republican proposal to weaken the Title X national family planning program by rolling back a Title X rule designed to shield family planning clinics across the country from partisan state-level defunding efforts.

The Title X rule, which today the House voted to eliminate, prevents organizations from being barred from funding for reasons other than their ability to provide Title X services. The rule was implemented as a result of states, including the state of New Hampshire, eliminating or restricting Title X funding to providers based on the abortion or contraception services they provide. Federal funds are prohibited from being used for abortion except in the case of rape, incest or the life of the mother.

This week, Kuster join more than 160 of her colleagues in calling for an end to attacks on women’s health care.

“This is nothing more than a thinly veiled attack on the ability of low income women and their families to access comprehensive family planning services,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “We’ve seen firsthand here in New Hampshire that partisan politics can interfere with care for thousands of Granite State women, men, and their families. We should be working to expand access to comprehensive family planning services not jeopardizing care for the most vulnerable among us.”

“We should be working together on solutions to the serious challenges we face as a nation, but instead, it’s another day in Congress, another attack on women’s health,” said Congresswoman Shea-Porter. “The protection House Republicans opposed today was developed specifically to defend New Hampshire women and families’ access to care from ideological attacks, and today’s vote makes it clear that such protection is needed now more than ever.” 

The rule House Republicans voted to roll back, clarifies that state governments must allocate federal Title X funds based on a provider’s ability to perform family planning services effectively, instead of for ideological reasons.

For more than 40 years, Title X has served as a cornerstone of safety-net care. As the only dedicated source of federal funding for family planning, Title X allows a diverse network of providers to deliver high-quality care to low-income, uninsured, or underinsured individuals and to those seeking confidential care. Title X also supports critical infrastructure needs for health centers, including new medical equipment and staff training that are not reimbursable under Medicaid and commercial insurance. This infrastructure is vital to ensuring safe, quality care at health centers which serve and provide basic health services to high-need populations.

In 2016, Title X funding helped nearly 4 million Americans get access to healthcare services including cancer screenings, birth control, and testing for sexually transmitted diseases.

The independent, nonpartisan Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences states that Title X family planning can prevent unintended and high-risk pregnancies, thereby reducing fetal, infant, and maternal mortality and morbidity. IOM also stated that the appropriate use of contraception reduces abortion rates and cites “ample evidence that family planning services are cost-effective.”

In 2014, Title X family planning services helped avert an estimated 171,800 unintended teen pregnancies. The Guttmacher Institute estimates that without Title X clinics’ services, the 2014 U.S. teen pregnancy rate would have been 30% higher.

The Obama administration developed the protection in response to several states’ ideologically motivated attacks on women’s access to care and attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, including the New Hampshire Executive Council’s 2011 cancellation of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England’s contract. That vote denied women in several regions of the state access to crucial preventive care, leaving them with zero providers for several months.

In 2015, more than 17,000 people in New Hampshire accessed family planning services through Title X programs. Of those receiving services, nearly half were individuals under the poverty level.

Reps Shea-Porter And Kuster Join 112 Colleagues To Reintroduce Paid Family Leave Bill

Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act Would Strengthen New Hampshire Workers’ Economic Security

WASHINGTON, DC — Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) and Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) joined 112 of their colleagues today to reintroduced 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 have to choose between a paycheck and caring for a family member.

“The United States is the only industrialized nation in the world that still doesn’t guarantee working parents paid time off to care for their newborns,” said Shea-Porter. “I call on Speaker Ryan to allow a vote on the FAMILY Act, because New Hampshire workers shouldn’t have to choose between their family’s health and economic security.”

“No new parent should have to choose between providing for their family and spending important time caring for and fostering the development of a newborn,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “Similarly, no one should lose their livelihood because they need to care for an ill family member. It’s just not right. We must enact policies that support hardworking families in New Hampshire and around the country with commonsense paid family leave policies. It’s good for families and businesses that will benefit from higher worker retention and less turnover.”

A recent University of New Hampshire study found that, “About one-third of New Hampshire workers have jobs without extended paid leave to tend to their own illness; about half lack access to parental leave; and two-thirds lack access to paid leave to care for an ill family member.”

Last week, Shea-Porter introduced another bill to support New Hampshire’s working families, 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.

Shea-Porter previously co-introduced the FAMILY Act in 2013, but despite broad support for paid family leave, House Republicans never called a vote on the bill.

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