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House Passes Short Term Fix of Highway Trust Fund

Kuster, Shea-Porter Call for Long-Term Investment in New Hampshire Roads and Bridges

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) voted in support of bipartisan legislation that will keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent through May 2015, allowing New Hampshire cities and towns to continue repairing roads and bridges. H.R. 5021 passed the House by a vote of 367-55. The legislation now moves to the Senate, where it is expected to pass and be signed into law by the President.

“I am pleased that this badly-needed fix will allow construction projects in New Hampshire to continue this summer,” said Shea-Porter, who has pushed for months to bring the fix to the floor. “Maintaining investments in our highways, roads, and bridges will support jobs, enhance safety, and boost the local economy.”

Without Congressional action, the Highway Trust Fund is projected to face a shortfall by next month, putting 700,000 American jobs at risk.

“While this bill will keep workers on the job for now, Congress must pass a full transportation reauthorization to allow long-term planning for essential major projects,” Shea-Porter added. “This year, 32% of New Hampshire bridges were rated deficient.  Our infrastructure needs upgrades to stay competitive in the 21st century, and the New Hampshire Department of Transportation needs resources to continue its excellent work for our state.”

“Federal transportation funding is vitally important for fixing our failing roads and bridges, protecting public safety, and supporting much-needed construction jobs for NH workers. That’s why I voted in favor of this bill, which provides a short-term solution to the Highway Trust Fund’s lack of funding. This will help ensure states can protect the crucial summer construction jobs our workers rely on,” said Kuster.

“However,” Kuster continued, “I am very disappointed that this bill kicks the can down the road until next May.  I introduced legislation that  would have saved jobs this summer and forced Congress to pass a long-term transportation bill before the end of this year.  I call on my colleagues in the House to come together this year to pass a six-year, long-term bill.  We shouldn’t wait until May to provide the certainty that our states and towns need to continue working to fix our roads and bridges and support Granite State jobs.”

Following the bill’s passage, NHDOT Commissioner Christopher Clement stated: “Keeping the Federal Highway Trust Fund solvent is critical to New Hampshire moving forward with important transportation improvement projects. This will allow the Federal Highway Administration to continue to reimburse the State of New Hampshire on schedule and allow millions of dollars in road and bridge projects currently being delayed to be addressed sooner. We appreciate and support efforts in Washington to make this possible, as well as the need to work towards a long-term transportation funding bill.”

Darren Benoit, of the New Hampshire Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers, said: “Passage of the Highway Trust Fund patch will help maintain the current level of investment in our transportation network as we try to address our deteriorating infrastructure while sustaining the construction sector, a vital part of our state’s economy.”

Shea-Porter Cosponsors Legislation to Fix SCOTUS Hobby Lobby Decision

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) will help introduce legislation in response to the Supreme Court’s Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision to restrict women’s access to health care. The bill would ensure that women’s health care decisions are not at the mercy of their bosses’ religious beliefs.

“In the 21st century, for-profit corporations should not be allowed to block employees’ access to critical preventive health services like birth control,” Shea-Porter said. “I’m pleased that this legislation extends proper protection to religious employers and non-profit institutions, and I urge Congress to act now to avert the negative consequences of the Supreme Court’s disturbing decision and make clear that women and their doctors, not their bosses or politicians, have control over personal health care decisions.”

The Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act of 2014 would explicitly prohibit for-profit employers that maintain a group health plan for its employees from using their personal religious beliefs as a justification to deny employees coverage of contraception or any other vital health service required by federal law. The bill exempts federally mandated health services from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act while keeping in place the existing exemption for religious employers (e.g., houses of worship) and accommodation of religious non-profits that do not wish to offer direct coverage for contraceptives.

The legislation will be introduced by Reps. Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY), Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) in the House, where Rep. Shea-Porter is an original cosponsor.  Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Mark Udall (D-CO) are introducing companion legislation in the Senate.

Almost 100 percent of American women use birth control at some point in their lives. The Centers for Disease Control declared it one of the Ten Great Public Health Achievements of the 20th Century. For millions of Americans, contraception coverage is a vital economic and health benefit, allowing women and families to avoid unplanned pregnancies and treat other health conditions.

After the Hobby Lobby decision, Shea-Porter called the court’s all-male majority opinion “incredibly disappointing,” and noted that “this decision will only make some women’s lives even more difficult, and leaves me wondering what’s next from this activist Supreme Court.”

Congresswoman Shea-Porter Tours The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

Meets with Navy leaders and workers to discuss improvements to the Shipyard, challenges of sequestration, and how the National Defense Authorization Act protects PNSY from base closure

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) tours the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard’s new learning centers

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) tours the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard’s new learning centers

PORTSMOUTH, NH – As part of her commitment to national defense and good local jobs,yesterday Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) toured the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY) to discuss challenges facing the Yard, improvements made to the Shipyard’s facilities, and how the FY 2015 National Defense Authorization Act protects PNSY from base closure. Shea-Porter was joined on the tour by Captain William Greene, Commander of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Paul O’Connor, President of the Metal Trades Council, and other shipyard management and labor leaders.

“The hard work done by the men and women of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is vital to our national defense and our local economy,” Shea-Porter said. “I’m proud to represent New Hampshire on the House Armed Services Committee, and I will continue to work to protect the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.”

Along the tour, Shea-Porter visited new learning centers with mockups that help workers learn and practice their skills before transitioning to work on nuclear submarines. The learning centers and other initiatives save the Yard over $5 million per year and help make PNSY more efficient. Leaders also spoke about the challenges associated with sequestration and the inclusive, value-based approach they have adopted to increase workforce efficiency and engagement in the face of furloughs and pay freezes.

Congresswoman Shea-Porter has worked to protect New Hampshire’s economy and PNSY workers from the reckless budget cuts of sequestration. She cosponsored legislation that would cancel sequestration, she held meetings with Shipyard leaders, and she spoke directly with the Secretary of Defense about furloughs at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. For more information on Shea-Porter’s efforts to stop sequestration, click here.

This year, Shea-Porter also passed legislation through the House of Representatives that ensures the Department of Defense use its existing methodology to determine which workforce is the most cost-efficient for new work—rather than to rely on informal arrangements or arbitrary decisions—allowing it to reap the savings.  The Department of Defense supported this provision and Shipyard leaders and workers thanked Shea-Porter for her focus on this issue as it would give the Yard more flexibility.

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is one of four public shipyards in the United States. In 2010, Shea-Porter secured more than $11.9 million in funding for the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard to add to and reconstruct the Shipyard’s Structural Shops, which will help the Shipyard remain competitive and efficient.

The Party Of “NO” Continues With Dan Innis

GOP Elephant (FLICKR DonkeyHotey)

GOP Elephant (FLICKR DonkeyHotey)

It is becoming increasingly clear that the New Hampshire Republican Party is lost. They keep recycling the same broken rhetoric and failed policies.

Take, for example, Dan Innis who spoke to the Union Leader this week.

In an effort to distance himself from his opponents, mainly former Congressman Frank Guinta, he touted his business experience and the fact that he has never run for office before.

“People I know and respect have told me this is a good thing for me to do because of my background and experience, and the fact that I haven’t been a politician,” Innis said.

I respect the outsider approach, but if you have no experience in politics why would anyone support you? Would you hire a plumber who has never sweat pipes, or vented a sewer line? I think a business owner would know that.

Innis believes his success as a business owner and administrator of a large institution would play well in the general election.”

Secondly, I am of the opinion that running a profitable business does not make someone a good person to lead government. The government is not a business; government agencies are not trying to make a profit. The function of government is to provide services to the community – not to return a profit to stockholders. Government helps people; it provides roads and bridges to facilitate commerce; it ensures public safety; it protects the environment, which protects our children and our tourism industries. Government doesn’t make widgets, and it’s not supposed to be a profit-making enterprise.

Other than those two things, Dan Innis is just like CREW’s most corrupt politician, Frank Guinta.

“His positions on issues like Obamacare, the economy, deficits, taxes, regulation and immigration are consistent with the Republican Party platform. He would vote to repeal Obamacare, cut taxes, reduce regulation, and bar any path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.”

The party of “No” continues:

  • No on Obamacare (even though it is working, and saving people lots of money)
  • No roadmap to citizenship (sorry, you 11,000,000 people: your decades of waiting were for nothing, we hope your employers don’t mind)
  • No new taxes, aka “cut taxes” (its ok, those poor kids don’t need to eat)
  • Cut regulations (so my friends the Koch brothers can pollute as much as they want – then we can be just like China)

Reading his statements makes me believe that Innis is in favor of the “Sequester,” because it forced Congress to take the “hard votes.”

“I like the idea of a five- to 10-year plan that sits on top of the annual budget process and forces Congress’ hand. Congress would have to hit the targets that are laid out.”

The blueprint would function much like the so-called “sequestration” that led to the fiscal cliff budget cuts. “Sequestration was a way that Congress could hide and not take hard votes on the cuts,” he said.

So far it looks like the NH GOP is offering up

Neither of these choices look at all appealing.

UPDATED: NH’s Congressional Delegation Is Outraged Over The Hobby Lobby Decision (Well Most Of It Anyway)

In a very unsurprising decision, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby.  The case was to determine if Hobby Lobby could be forced to have an insurance plan that would cover contraceptives that the Green family – the evangelical owners and operators of Hobby Lobby – say they disagree with on religious grounds.

In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that because Hobby Lobby was a privately owned corporation that is run by a small group of people who have the same religious beliefs that forcing their insurance plans to cover certain types of birth control infringed on their closely held religious beliefs.

“Americans shouldn’t be forced to comply with government mandates that violate core principles of their faith,” said Senator Kelly Ayotte. “This case is fundamentally a matter of religious freedom, and this ruling affirms Americans’ religious liberties as protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”

This ruling means that the religious rights of the employer are more important than the personal rights of the employees.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lashed out in an epic dissent:

“The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would…deny legions of women who do not hold their employers’ beliefs access to contraceptive coverage.”  She continued by stating, “The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.”

This case is also chalk full of hypocrisy.

I guess “God’s will” only matters when it affects a woman’s right to choose, and not when it affects a man’s inability to perform.

“The Supreme Court’s decision today is incredibly disappointing,” stated Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. “The debate over birth control was seemingly settled decades ago, and most companies and institutions had been offering birth control coverage as part of a health care package without controversy. This decision will only make some women’s lives even more difficult, and leaves me wondering what’s next from this activist Supreme Court.”

“Women should be making decisions about their health care with their doctors, not their employers,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “Today’s Supreme Court decision unfortunately jeopardizes basic health care coverage and access to contraception for a countless number of women and I’m very disappointed by the ruling. Blocking access to contraception will have economic and public health consequences that our country cannot afford.”

“The Supreme Court’s decision on the Hobby Lobby case is a step backwards for New Hampshire women and their families,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “Not only will this decision limit access to health care coverage for Granite State women, it will allow some employers to dictate a woman’s health care choices – something that can and should only be decided by each individual woman for herself. We must ensure that all women have access to comprehensive health coverage, and that they have the freedom to make choices about their own individual health care needs.”

The Affordable Care Act pushed insurance companies to fully cover preventative care for women – including contraception, when prescribed by a medical provider.  It also prohibits insurance companies from charging higher premiums for women than for men.  Before Obamacare, insurance companies could – and did – discriminate against women.  Charging women $1 billion more than men each year – and then giving them less coverage – was unfair and discriminatory.

One of the birth control options that Hobby Lobby disagreed with is the Internal Uterine Device (IUD). An IUD prevents a woman’s egg from implanting on the uterine wall, which prevents pregnancy.  Hobby Lobby makes the claim that this is abortion, because “life begins at conception.” But conception does not occur until after the egg is implanted.  So if an IUD prevents implantation, it prevents conception – and that means it’s contraception, just like the pill and condoms.

An IUD is extremely effective and has very low risk for women who choose to use it, although it can be expensive.

“It bears note in this regard that the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month’s full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage,” wrote Justice Bader Ginsberg in her dissent.

“Access to family planning services is critical for the health and economic security of women and families, as contraception costs are one of the biggest health care expenses for women and their families,” said Governor Maggie Hassan. “While today’s Supreme Court decision is disappointing, I’m optimistic that employers will continue providing coverage for family planning services because it’s the right thing to do for workers, it will help businesses attract high-quality employees, and it will strengthen the economic security of working families.”

This attack on women’s reproductive rights is nothing new.  Conservatives have been trying to limit a women’s right to choose since the Supreme Court ruled on Roe v Wade over 50 years ago.  When Republicans took control of the New Hampshire House in 2011, a new firestorm of attacks on women’s right was initiated.

“In 2011, the Executive Council took the radical step of eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood, blocking access to health services for thousands of Granite State women,” stated Executive Counselor Chris Pappas. “That was the wrong decision for New Hampshire families then just as the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby is wrong now.  Access to contraception and basic family planning services is critical for women’s health and economic security.  As an employer and owner of a family-run business, I know first-hand that important health decisions must be left up to women and their physicians.” (Emphasis added)

It continues to show that this Supreme Court and their conservative majority are out of touch with real working families, and are basing their rulings on their ideological positions.

More and more, it seems that the majority of the Supreme Court better represents the interests of the Chamber of Commerce than it does the values and aspirations of working Americans. Workers’ rights should not depend on whether their employer—while buying and selling to everyone regardless of religion—wants to limit their reproductive rights based on privately held religious beliefs,” said Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers. “That this decision, which disproportionately affects women, coincides with the Harris v. Quinn decision, which limits rights of home healthcare workers in Illinois—the vast majority of whom are women—is a throwback to another age. Working families, especially working women, have lost here.”

There is no doubt our national healthcare system was broken.  The Affordable Care Act was a step in the right direction, fixing some of the major wrongs.  An insurance company can no longer deny coverage if you get sick; they can no longer deny coverage because of a pre-existing condition; their profits are limited by the 80/20 rule; and many more.

In my opinion the problem is that we are still relying on private insurance companies for health care.  For-profit institutions are making decisions about what our healthcare should be.  The problem is only compounded by our reliance on employer-supplied healthcare.

In Justice Alito’s decision, he implied that if the government truly wants to find a way to cover all of these contraceptives then the government is going to have to find a way to pay for it themselves.

To me, the solution is simple: Medicare for all.  If everyone were on Medicare, or any other version of a single payer system, the opinions of an employer would be moot.  An employer would never be able to restrict coverage for its women employees (or its men employees, for that matter).

Arnie Arnesen, a local radio personality summed it all up perfectly, “If Medicare is good enough for a 65 year old man, then why is it not good enough for a 6 year old girl?”

163 Members of Congress Demand a Vote, Not Silence, to Prevent Gun Violence

Reps. Shea-Porter, Thompson Lead 163 House Members in Calling for a Vote on Gun Violence Prevention Legislation

WASHINGTON, DC – In the wake of recent shootings in Portland, Las Vegas, and Santa Barbara, Representatives Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01), a member of the House’s Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, and Task Force Chairman Mike Thompson (CA-05) led a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) signed by 163 Members of Congress demanding a vote on substantive legislation to address gun violence.

“Our nation has suffered at least 74 school shootings since the Sandy Hook massacre,” Shea-Porter, Thompson, and 161 of their colleagues wrote. “The factors allowing these rampages are no mystery: loopholes in the background check laws, straw purchases, restrictions on law enforcement, and gaps in our mental health system. Dozens of legislative proposals that address these factors have been introduced and await consideration. But despite wake-up call after wake-up call, a shameful tradition of Congressional inaction continues.”

“Moments of silence on the floor of the House are not enough.  The last thing these victims and their families need is further silence from this Congress. They deserve a vote,” they continued.

Recently on the floor of the House of Representatives, Shea-Porter called on Speaker Boehner to allow a vote on legislation to help prevent more deaths from senseless gun violence.

The Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, which is chaired by Thompson, released a comprehensive set of policy principles that will reduce gun violence and respect the Second Amendment.

Of those recommendations, one of the most important pieces is H.R. 1565, bipartisan legislation written by Reps. Thompson and Peter King (R-NY) and cosponsored by Rep. Shea-Porter, to strengthen and expand background checks. This legislation bolsters the Second Amendment rights of lawful gun owners and helps keep guns from criminals, terrorists, and the dangerously mentally ill.

Right now, a criminal in many states can buy a firearm at a gun show, over the internet, or through a newspaper ad because those sales don’t require a background check.  H.R. 1565 requires comprehensive and enforceable background checks on all commercial gun sales, including those at gun shows, over the Internet, or through classified ads, while providing reasonable exceptions for family and friends. Background checks would be conducted though a licensed dealer in the same manner as they have been for more than 40 years. The Thompson-King bill bans the creation of a federal registry and makes the misuse of records a felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

“Congressional silence is not a sign of respect, but rather an institutional indictment. We must right this wrong. You must allow a vote on substantive legislation to address gun violence,” Shea-Porter, Thompson and others concluded in their letter.

Full text of the letter to Speaker John Boehner is below. The full list of signatories can be found here.

+++

June 26, 2014
Speaker John Boehner
Office of the Speaker
H-232, US Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. Speaker:

We agree with you that we must honor the victims of the recent shootings in Portland, Las Vegas and Santa Barbara. But moments of silence on the floor of the House are not enough.  The last thing these victims and their families need is further silence from this Congress. They deserve a vote.

Our nation has suffered at least 74 school shootings since the Sandy Hook massacre. The factors allowing these rampages are no mystery: loopholes in the background check laws, straw purchases, restrictions on law enforcement, and gaps in our mental health system. Dozens of legislative proposals that address these factors have been introduced and await consideration. But despite wake-up call after wake-up call, a shameful tradition of Congressional inaction continues.

Gun violence has affected constituents in every Congressional district, and as their representatives, Members of Congress deserve the opportunity to vote on bills that would address this epidemic. 

Congressional silence is not a sign of respect, but rather an institutional indictment. We must right this wrong. You must allow a vote on substantive legislation to address gun violence.

Sincerely,

 

Shea-Porter Introduces DELIVER Act to Improve Wait Times at the VA

Legislation would help VA Doctors, Nurses, and Other Medical Staff Repay Student Loans and Speed Up Wait Times Caused by the VA Doctor Shortage

Shea-Porter: “The VA needs fully qualified long-term staff, and one thing holding the VA back right now is that doctors can make more money and pay back student loans faster by working in the private sector” 

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) introduced a new measure to improve recruitment and retention of doctors, nurses, and medical staff at VA medical facilities. The Doctors’ Education Loans Impact VA Employee Retention (DELIVER) Act, would expand programs to help VA employees repay higher education loans and help address the current shortage of doctors at the VA. Congressmen Dave Loebsack (IA-02) and John Tierney (MA-06) joined Shea-Porter as original cosponsors of the legislation.

“Our veterans deserve to receive treatment quickly, and they deserve the best care our country can offer,” Shea-Porter said. “To achieve those goals, the VA needs fully qualified long-term staff, and one thing holding the VA back right now is that doctors can make more money and pay back student loans faster by working in the private sector. My legislation would help some VA employees get out from under their student debt as long as they are serving our veterans. ”

The long wait times that have plagued VA medical facilities across the country are caused in part by staff shortages.  In May, The New York Times reported that “at the heart of the falsified data in Phoenix, and possibly many other veterans hospitals, is an acute shortage of doctors, particularly primary care ones, to handle a patient population swelled both by aging veterans from the Vietnam War and younger ones who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

“As I visit the VA health centers in Iowa, I am told time and again that they need more doctors, nurses and support staff to handle the influx of patients. This commonsense bill will attract more doctors to the VA and begin dealing with this problem. As a military parent, I believe there is no greater responsibility than caring for our veterans with the same dignity and honor with which they served. We owe it to them to provide the VA with the resources necessary to hire additional doctors and nurses so they can continue the great work they do,” Congressman Loebsack said.

“A major issue facing the VA is the lack of medical professionals available to help our veterans. We need a responsible and commonsense solution in order to ensure veterans receive the quality and timely medical care they deserve. Today, we’re introducing an expansion of the VA’s loan forgiveness program that would help VA medical professionals repay their student loans while also addressing the shortage of medical professionals at the VA,” Congressman Tierney said.

VA doctors are supposed to take care of about 1,200 patients each, but staff shortages have forced them to treat more than 2,000 each, according to J. David Cox Sr., National President of the American Federation of Government Employees. Furthermore, exhausted and overworked VA doctors and other medical staff, such as nurse practitioners struggling to repay crushing levels of student debt, are often poached by private sector employers that can offer higher salaries. Primary care doctors and internists at veterans centers generally earn from about $98,000 to $195,000, compared with private-sector primary care physicians whose total median compensation was $221,000 in 2012, according to the Medical Group Management Association and The New York Times.

Congresswoman Shea-Porter’s bill will make it easier for VA employees to pay back student loans, thus ensuring they can attract and retain high-quality professionals and give our nation’s veterans the best possible care. Specifically, the DELIVER Act would “direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide for the repayment of higher education loans for certain employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs.” The VA’s existing Education Debt Reduction Program allows the Department to compete with the private sector in areas where there are staff shortages. Congresswoman Shea-Porter’s DELIVER Act will build on that program’s record of success.

Full text of Shea-Porter’s legislation is available here.

Rochester Fire Department to Receive $175,500 Assistance to Firefighters Grant

Shea-Porter’s Letter Helped Rochester Secure the Funding

ROCHESTER, NH – Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) is pleased to announce that the Rochester Fire Department has been selected as the recipient of a $175,500 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG). The grant will help the fire department purchase updated breathing apparatuses, such as spare bottles, communication devices, and equipment to outfit their Rapid Intervention Team.

“We must provide first responders with the equipment they need to safely serve in the line of duty,” Shea-Porter said. “I was proud to support this grant that will help the Rochester Fire Department keep our communities and first responders safe.”

Since 2001, Assistance to Firefighter Grants have helped firefighters and first responders purchase critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training, and other resources needed to protect the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards.

Shea-Porter frequently assists cities and towns in their applications for federal grants by writing letters of support, and she did so in this case. In January, she wrote to FEMA, “As a resident of Rochester, I can attest to the hard work of the full-time and on-call firefighters that serve our community of 30,000 residents. Our two fire stations serve a 45-square-mile area, and the new equipment would provide numerous benefits, ranging from operational effectiveness to firefighter protection.”

Shea-Porter Urges Veterans Conference Committee to Keep Language Very Similar to Her Veterans Health Equity Act

WASHINGTON, DC – As members of the House and Senate form a Conference Committee to complete debate on legislation that will increase accountability at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and hire more doctors and nurses to provide timely, quality care for veterans, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01)sent a letter today to the Conference Committee urging them to retain language included by the Senate, which is very similar to her Veterans Health Equity Act.

“Like my bill, the Senate-passed Veteran Access to Care Act includes a provision to ensure that veterans who live in a state without a full-service VA medical facility, such as New Hampshire, and who live more than 20 miles from a full-service VA medical facility, may access care from a private healthcare provider,” Shea-Porter said. “I respectfully request that you retain the language in Section 301 of H.R. 3230 as passed by the Senate, which is very similar to my bill, the Veterans Health Equity Act. This provision will solve some of the problems that rural veterans, many of whom live in New Hampshire, face when traveling long distances to receive medical care. The long ride to a VA medical facility has been a huge and unfair burden to our oldest and sickest veterans, and we have a chance to lift that burden now as part of the new VA legislation.”

Section 301 of the Veteran Access to Care Act would “expand availability of hospital care and medical services for veterans through the use of contracts.” Shea-Porter’s legislation would ensure that “every state has a full-service veterans hospital or that similar services are made available through contracts with hospitals in the state.”

Shea-Porter originally introduced the Veterans Health Equity Act in 2008. Since then, every member of New Hampshire’s delegation has cosponsored or reintroduced the bill.

Senators Shaheen and Ayotte worked to include the provision in the Senate VA bill. The Republican House Majority brought up the House VA bill under a closed rule, meaning language could not be changed.

Shea-Porter has been a leader in the effort to address issues within the Department of Veterans affairs. She supported the Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act of 2014. She cosponsored the  Veterans Timely Access to Health Care Act. And she was one of the first House Democrats to call for new leadership at the VA.

Full text of the letter is below.

+++

June 23, 2014

The Honorable Bernie Sanders
Chairman, Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
Russell Senate Building, Room 412
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Richard Burr
Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

The Honorable Jeff Miller
Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
335 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Mike Michaud
Ranking Member, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
333 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

I respectfully request that you retain the language in Section 301 of H.R. 3230 as passed by the Senate, which is very similar to my bill, the Veterans Health Equity Act. This provision will solve some of the problems that rural veterans, many of whom live in New Hampshire, face when traveling long distances to receive medical care. The long ride to a VA medical facility has been a huge and unfair burden to our oldest and sickest veterans, and we have a chance to lift that burden now as part of the new VA legislation.

All too often, veterans from my state must travel to Vermont or Massachusetts because New Hampshire no longer has a full-service VA medical facility. New Hampshire is currently one of the few states in the nation that does not have a full-service veterans hospital or equivalent access to comparable care. That is why I introduced the Veterans Health Equity Act in 2008, and have reintroduced it in my ensuing term. My bill would increase veterans’ access to VA or equivalent health care in New Hampshire. This is a matter of fairness. Since I originally introduced this bill, access to in-state medical care for New Hampshire’s veterans has improved, but not enough.

Like my bill, the Senate-passed Veteran Access to Care Act includes a provision to ensure that veterans who live in a state without a full-service VA medical facility, such as New Hampshire, and who live more than 20 miles from a full-service VA medical facility, may access care from a private healthcare provider.

Thanking veterans for their service means honoring our commitments to them, and that includes a commitment to timely, accessible, and convenient medical care. By retaining this provision, Congress can ensure that veterans living in rural areas far from a VA medical facility can access care in a way that does not cause hardship, and ensure that our veterans are treated as they deserve. I respectfully ask that this important provision be retained in Conference.

Sincerely,

Carol Shea-Porter

Member of Congress

 

Frank Guinta Must Denounce Rick Perry’s Offensive Remarks

Guinta and Perry Recently Dined Together in Texas

Shea-Porter Campaign: Perry’s offensive remarks have no place in New Hampshire

Rick Perry by Gage SkidmoreMANCHESTER, NH – Three weeks ago, Frank Guinta dined with Texas Governor Rick Perry in the Governor’s Austin mansion. This week, Perry doubled down on his outrageous comparison of homosexuality to alcoholism, and Mr. Guinta stood silently as Rick Perry insulted our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community.

“Frank Guinta’s friend Rick Perry compared homosexuality to alcoholism and Frank Guinta thinks that’s okay?” Patrick Carroll, Campaign Manager for Carol Shea-Porter asked. “If Mr. Guinta believes in equality, he must condemn Rick Perry’s disgusting remarks and call for an apology immediately. New Hampshire families would not tolerate this offensive comparison in their living room, and Frank Guinta should stand up for all of the people of our state.”

When asked whether he thought homosexuality was a disorder, Perry recently said, “I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that – and I look at the homosexual issue the same way.” When asked to clarify his comments, CNN reported, “Perry sticks by alcoholism and homosexuality comparison.”

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie already denounced the remark.

As a member of Congress, Guinta received the worst score possible from the Human Rights Campaign.

Shea-Porter helped end Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. She is an original cosponsor of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA), and she signed the historic amicus brief regarding the unconstitutionality of DOMA.

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