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Shea-Porter, Walz Secure TRICARE Fairness Provision in Final Bicameral Defense Bill

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01), a four-term member of the House Armed Services Committee, and Congressman Tim Walz (MN-01), Ranking Member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, announced the inclusion of their provision to extend TRICARE health benefits currently available to Active Component forces to deployed reserve component service members in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), as reported out of the Conference Committee.

“Our National Guard and Reserve members deserve the same benefits as those they serve alongside,” said Rep. Shea-Porter. “With this fix, all our overseas troops and their families will now have access to TRICARE health benefits, both before and after deployment. I was glad to work with Congressman Walz on this legislation, and I thank him for serving our nation and then being a tireless advocate for all those who served.”

“This is about recognizing the sacrifice of all our men and women who volunteer freely to serve this nation,” said Rep. Tim Walz. “Ensuring fairness in TRICARE health benefits to National Guard and Reserve Component troops who answer the call to serve right alongside their Active Component counterparts is the right thing to do. I thank Rep. Shea-Porter, our VSO partners, and most importantly, our veterans, servicemembers and military families for fighting to bring these brave Americans and their loved ones the peace of mind that comes with knowing they will now be eligible for TRICARE health benefits.”

The provision was first introduced as part of H.R. 1384, the Reserve Component Benefits Parity Act, a comprehensive, bipartisan bill to provide fairness to certain mobilized National Guard and Reserve Component service members by extending eligibility for certain benefits. H.R.1384 was sponsored by Walz and co-introduced by Shea-Porter and Reps. Palazzo (MS-04) and Franks (AZ-08).

In October, Shea-Porter and Walz wrote to the NDAA conferees to urge them to retain Section 503 of the House NDAA, which would authorize Reserve Component members activated under the authority provided by either §12304a or §12304b of title 10, United States Code, to receive pre-mobilization and transitional TRICARE health care. Their letter was cosigned by Reps. Palazzo, Rosen, Moulton, Brown, Jones, Stivers, Bordallo, Lamborn, Hanabusa, Moore (WI), Gonzalez, DesJarlais, McGovern, Radewagen, and Gallego.

 

A large number of veterans and military organizations supported the fix, including the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS), the Military Coalition (TMC), the Reserve Officers Association (ROA), the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS), the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW), the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), the National Military Family Association, the Air Force Association, the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), and the Association of the United States Navy (AUSN).

 

Trump Nominated Former ELI LILLY President To Lead Health and Human Services

WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan, member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, released the following statement after President Trump announced Alex Azar as his nominee for Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services:

“As New Hampshire and states across the country continue to be devastated by the fentanyl, heroin, and opioid crisis, and as the Trump Administration continues working to strip health insurance coverage away from hard-working Granite Staters and Americans, it is essential that we have a leader at the Department of Health and Human Services who puts the health and well-being of patients first. I look forward to evaluating Mr. Azar’s experience and qualifications for the role, including his commitment to joining us in our efforts to lower the cost of prescription drugs given his past work in the pharmaceutical industry. I will always stand up for the health and well-being of the people of New Hampshire, and will thoroughly evaluate Mr. Azar’s nomination during the confirmation process.”

Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans is troubled by this pick and says that putting Azar in charge of HHS is like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.

“Prescription drug costs are the top driver behind high medical costs in this country, hurting retirees and all consumers. By nominating a drug corporation insider to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, President Trump appears to be putting a fox in charge of the henhouse.”

“Congress must ask tough questions of this nominee during the confirmation process. In particular, Mr. Azar should be asked whether he supports giving Medicare the ability to negotiate drug prices, the way that Medicaid and the Veterans Administration do today,” said Fiesta.

Congressional Candidate Wants More “Evidence-Based” Policy Making

Almost every day we can read about another unqualified crony being appointed to run any number of federal agencies. The Trump administration has made a joke out of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by appointing Scott Pruitt to lead the organization. As the Attorney General for the state of Oklahoma, Pruitt fought the EPA’s regulations and continually denied the science on climate change.

Another example is the nomination of Sam Clovis to be the top scientist at the US Food and Drug Administration despite the fact he is not a scientist. Clovis, a former radio talk show host, economics professor, and Trump campaign aide, openly admitted to having no degrees in agricultural or natural sciences and called climate change “junk science”.

Clovis has since withdrawn his consideration for the under-secretary position but clearly shows the Trump administration’s pattern of nominating anti-climate change, anti-science, political cronies to lead federal agencies.

With the heads of major natural science agencies being run by anti-science ideologues, it would then fall on Congress to address some of the environmental issues facing the country.

That is just one of the reasons Rye State Rep, Mindi Messmer, has decided to run for Congress. As an environmental scientist, she brings nearly 30 years of experience working to clean up the environment and protecting communities from the harmful toxins that lay dormant underground.

“I am running for Congress to ensure clean drinking water for all Americans, to take precautions to mitigate the environmental causes of cancer, and to stand up to industry-backed attacks on science federal agencies like the EPA by Scott Pruitt and others,” said Messmer. “At a time when the EPA is being dismantled, and environmental policy and regulations are being decimated, I vow to fiercely advocate for evidence-based policy if elected to Congress.”

“It​ ​is​ ​encouraging​ ​to​ ​see​ ​candidates​ ​like​ ​Mindi,​ ​with​ ​a​ ​proven​ ​track​ ​record​ ​of standing​ ​up​ ​for​ ​science​ ​science,​ ​stepping​ ​up​ ​to​ ​the​ ​plate​ ​to​ ​run​ ​for​ ​office,” said Joshua​ ​Morrow,​​Executive​ ​Director​ ​of​ ​314​ ​Action after hearing of Messmer’s decision to run.​ ​”In​ ​an era​ ​where​ ​alternative​ ​facts​ ​and​ ​attacks​ ​on​ ​science​ ​are​ ​the​ ​norm​ ​at​ ​the​ ​hands​ ​of the​ ​Trump​ ​Administration,​ ​Congress​ ​needs​ ​the​ ​perspective​ ​of​ ​scientists​ ​who​ ​will base​ ​policy​ ​on​ ​evidence​ ​rather​ ​than​ ​intuition.”

For 28 years, Messmer has run Terra Nova Environmental, a consulting firm that focuses on the “evaluation, design, development, and implementation of conventional and innovative in-situ and on-site technologies for remediation of contaminated sites.”

Most notably she was the first to identify and report a “pediatric cancer cluster” in five Seacoast NH towns. Her work prompted then Governor, Maggie Hassan to create a task force to investigate the “rhabdomyosarcoma and pleuropulmonary blastoma double pediatric cancer cluster.”

As head of the task force subcommittee, Messmer coordinated with the EPA and the NH Department of Environmental Services to investigate the Coakley Landfill Superfund Site, as the possible cause of the cancer cluster.

Messmer has also been leading the charge on the contaminated ground water in Merrimack, Bedford, and Litchfield linked to the Saint Gobain factory as well as groundwater contaminations linked to the Pease Air Force Base.

As a consultant, Messmer could only do so much. But as a state legislator she could write her own legislation to get the state to address these water issues. And that is exactly what she did.

Messmer was elected to the NH House of Representatives in 2016 and has already submitted a number of bills, three of which have already become law. Messmer’s bills created commissions to further study the cancer cluster and water contamination on the Seacoast as well as a commission to study “environmentally triggered illnesses” in New Hampshire.

In a brief conversation with Messmer after her announcement to run for Congress she talked about how there are more than 150 “superfund sites” similar to those at Pease AFB all across the country that need to be investigated.

Messmer is a longtime resident of Rye, NH where she lives with her husband and two teenage sons.


You can read her full campaign announcement here. Be sure to subscribe to the NH Labor News to get more news on the Congressional races in NH.

House GOP Tax Plan Hurts Working Families

Today, the House Republicans released their new tax plan that would lower taxes for the ultra-wealthy and add trillions to the national debt. The plan would also drastically reduce the corporate tax rate while continuing to reward companies for offshoring American jobs.

“This tax bill is a job killer. It gives hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to companies that outsource jobs and profits,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. “No matter how it’s spun by Republican politicians, their tax bill is nothing but giveaways to Wall Street, big corporations and millionaires, paid for on the backs of working families.”

“It’s shameless to propose cutting Medicaid, Medicare, education and infrastructure to pay for tax breaks for the 1%. History tells us, commonsense tells us and careful analysis of this tax bill tells us that these tax giveaways for the wealthy and big corporations will never trickle down to the rest of us. Real tax reform actually can put money back in the pockets of working people, but this is not that kind of plan,” Trumka added.

“The Republican tax plan is a handout to millionaires, billionaires, and big corporations that will raise taxes on working families and give corporations new incentives to send more U.S. jobs overseas,” stated Chris Shelton, President of the Communication Workers of America (CWA). “Republicans and White House staff have been working overtime to spin this deal as a ‘middle class tax cut.’ It’s not.”

Shelton explained just a few of the ways the new tax proposal will hurt CWA members and working families across the nation.

  • It limits the ability to deduct property taxes and completely eliminates the ability to deduct state and local taxes.
  • It gets rid of tax deductions that help families pay education expenses. It will tax directly the value of employer-provided education assistance that at least 10,000 CWA members use.
  • It restricts the amount of home mortgage interest that can be deducted, hurting CWA members and working people especially in areas like California, New York, New Jersey, and other states with high housing costs.
  • It wipes out the ability of families to deduct their medical expenses.
  • Any employer-provided child care benefit will be taxed, and assistance from employers to help CWA families adopt a child also will be taxed.

“We cannot allow tax cuts for the wealthy to harm millions of working families. CWA and our allies are fighting back against this massive transfer of dollars from working families to the richest 1 percent,” added Shelton.

David J Cox, President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) also spoke out against the new tax plan.

“The tax plan unveiled by House leadership would mostly benefit those who need the help the least: wealthy individuals and large corporations. While the plan would lower the tax rate for many middle-income families, most would end up having more of their income taxed. And the plan would actually raise taxes on our poorest citizens.”

“Too many American workers have been suffering from stagnant wages, rising costs for health care and other essentials, and an economic system that favors the millionaires and billionaires. This plan does nothing to help them,” he concluded.

The new plan angered the Alliance for Retired Americans, a national advocacy group for seniors.

“This is the latest cruel scheme. The tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans are so massive that they plan to cut nearly $500 billion from Medicare and more than $1 trillion from Medicaid over the next 10 years to pay for them – but they will still add $1.5 trillion to the deficit,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans.

“Exacerbating the problems they are creating, the House and the Trump Administration would no longer allow Americans, including retirees, to deduct their medical expenses, including nursing home costs or out of pocket medical or dental expenses from their taxes.”

Even some on the right oppose this new tax proposal. The Concord Coalition, a self proclaimed “non-partisan, grassroots organization,” heavily funded by former Sec. of Commerce Peter G Peterson, spoke out against this new proposal calling it “fiscally irresponsible.”

“True tax reform should aim to grow the economy without growing the debt ” said Robert L. Bixby, Concord’s executive director. “This plan would move U.S. fiscal policy in a dangerous direction, openly inviting higher deficits in the face of unsustainable debt.”

The federal debt recently passed the $20 trillion mark, and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that under current law the government is on track to add more than $10 trillion to that in the next 10 years. This version of the tax plan will add at least another $1.5 trillion onto that projection.

“It is important that any changes made to this draft to accommodate interest group concerns and increase potential support be paid for by reducing tax cuts rather than increasing the number of budget gimmicks,” Bixby added.

Working people across the country should not be made to suffer to give the top 1% more tax breaks.

Former Sec. of Labor and respected economist Robert Reich said, “The proposed tax cuts are tiny and temporary. And some middle class Americans will actually get a tax increase.”

Reich calls this tax plan a “Trojan Horse” in this short video released today.

“Meanwhile, the top 1 percent will get a gigantic tax cut. The Tax Policy Center estimates that the current plan will save the bottom 80 percent between $50 and $450 in taxes per year, but that it saves each person in the top 1 percent an average of $129,000 a year. For people at the very top, like Trump himself, the tax cuts are humongous. And the corporations they own will also get a massive tax cut,” Reich added.

Working people have suffered through decades of stagnant wages, budget cuts to programs that help them and provide healthcare when they get old.  Enough is enough. We must stop this massive giveaway to the wealthy 1%.

It’s Official: Mark MacKenzie Announces Candidacy for Congress

MANCHESTER, NH – Today, Manchester State Representative and former NH AFL-CIO President Mark Mackenzie announced his candidacy to represent New Hampshire’s 1st District in the U.S. Congress with the following statement:

“I am entering this race today and will join with thousands of working men and women throughout our state and country who find themselves struggling in an economy which has failed them. The American dream has dissolved into the American struggle, as more and more people try and stay above water.

Wealthy Americans are the beneficiaries of a rigged system which has allowed a small minority of people to amass enormous amounts of money while most Americans continue to work harder to make ends meet. Working families deserve an economy that works for them.

My service to working families and the community span more than 40 years. As a firefighter in the State’s largest community, Manchester, I had the honor to work with my sisters and brothers in the fire service community making our City a safer place to live and work.

As a community activist and a leader, I joined with people all over our state working shoulder to shoulder to fight for fair wages, good pension benefits, health care for all and fair treatment of all people regardless of one’s sexual or gender preference.

I enter this race tempered by this lifetime of work and ready to help lead a movement which will restore “Liberty and Justice for all”.

I believe in:

A quality health care system for all Americans, beginning with the expansion of our current Medicare system to more people by incrementally reducing the eligibility age.

A public college education which is affordable and moves us towards free education at public universities. This would open up opportunities for thousands of people and relieve the crushing burden college debt has cause for to many of our citizens.

Equality and justice for all. This phrase is not just a slogan but a declaration of our values. It should apply to all Americans regardless of the color of their skin, nationality or sexual and gender orientation.

An energy strategy which first acknowledges climate change is real, and moves this country away from fossil fuels and towards renewable sources of energy. This strategy would create millions of good paying jobs.

Investing in rebuilding the crumbling infrastructure of our county. Thousands of roads and bridges are in disrepair. Aging systems in communities and all over the country threaten our way of life and put at risk our water and air.  This too will create thousands of good paying jobs in communities all over the country.

We can do better as a nation to address these problems and many others which undermine the lives of working people in this country.

We have an opportunity in this election to send a clear message about what we want and expect from our elected officials .

Let’s come together and help redefine what “making America great again” means for us .

I want to thank Carol Shea-Porter for her legacy of service to all of us in the first district, and I hope to continue and renew her efforts to find and fund community based solutions to the opioid crisis, work for affordable childcare as well as paid family leave policies and immigration reform. My attempts with Carol over the years to raise the minimum wage to a living wage has been extremely rewarding and meaningful to me. I will continue to seek her counsel as we move forward.”

MacKenzie has been a resident of Manchester since he joined the Fire Department at the age of 21 in 1974, eventually earning the rank of Captain and being chosen to represent his fellow firefighters, achieving improved working conditions and livelihoods for public servants across the state of New Hampshire. He retired from the Fire Department after 25 years of service.

His 25-year tenure as President of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO was recognized nationally for his numerous achievements on behalf of working people including defeating Koch Brother funded anti-worker “right to work” legislation in many legislative battles.

Mark has been at the forefront of virtually all successful Democratic campaigns over many years in New Hampshire, including Representatives Shea-Porter and Kuster, Senators Shaheen and Hassan, Governors Shaheen, Lynch and Hassan including countless State Senators and Representatives. He has also worked closely with New Hampshire elected officials from both parties.

Representative MacKenzie helped to form the NH Bernie Sanders Steering Committee in 2015 and remains an active member of that group.

Mark has been an active member of the community serving with many organizations including:  Worker’s Compensation Appeals Board – Department of Labor, Post Secondary Voc-Tech Education System, New Hampshire State Job Training Council, Manchester United Way, New Hampshire Charitable Trust, National Council of Public Employees Retirement Systems, New Hampshire State School-to-Work Team, NH Citizens Commission on State Courts and NH Citizens Health Initiative.

He has an Associate of Arts and a Bachelor of Science degrees from  Franklin Pierce College and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from The University of New Hampshire. He has also completed the Trade Union program at Harvard University. He is a member of The National Political Science Honor Society and the Harvard Alumni Association.

NH Delegation Questions EPA on Public Disclosure of Risks from PFOA and PFOS

Washington, DC – On Friday, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Congresswomen Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) and Annie Kuster (D-NH) regarding reports in a recent New York Times article that described the EPA’s efforts to weaken chemical safety regulations that could affect access to public information on the risks of emerging contaminants, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), chemical materials that have contaminated drinking water in several New Hampshire communities.

“We are deeply troubled by reports and an October 21st 2017 New York Times article that described how in spite of objections from scientists and administrators in multiple offices within the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), political appointees at the agency weakened recent regulations promulgated under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), our nation’s principal chemical safety law. We are concerned that these actions not only ignore Congressional intent but may also deprive Granite Staters of critical information about the risks that chemical materials, particularly perfluorinated compounds, pose to their families’ health,” wrote the delegation.

The delegation continued, “In particular, we take issue with the reversal of EPA’s approach to a chemical substance’s ‘condition of use’…This change has far-reaching consequences and may limit the agency’s evaluation of legacy chemicals including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS).”

Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) like PFOA and PFOS have emerged as a widespread contamination in drinking water sources in several southern New Hampshire towns and were responsible for the closing of a major water supply well located at the former Pease Air Force Base in Portsmouth. While the health effects of these chemicals are still being determined, studies have linked PFC exposure to developmental damage, certain cancers and immune system dysfunction.

In the letter, the delegation questions what effect the new rules will have on tracking the health consequences of PFOA and PFOS and therefore appropriately regulate these harmful materials.

Senator Shaheen and Congresswoman Shea-Porter secured amendments to their respective chambers’ annual defense authorization bill that establishes the first-ever nationwide study on the human health effects of those exposed to PFCs in their drinking water. Earlier this year, Senator Shaheen joined with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) to introduce the bipartisan Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act, which addresses barriers that limit the EPA response to emerging contaminants. Additionally, as the lead Democrat on the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Shaheen included a provision in the subcommittee’s annual appropriations bill to identify research gaps in addressing the potential health implications associated with exposure to emerging contaminants. The House unanimously adopted an amendment written by Congresswoman Shea-Porter appropriating $7 million to launch the national health impact study authorized in the House and Senate-passed defense bills.

As Governor of New Hampshire, Senator Hassan urged the EPA to set a lifetime health advisory for certain PFCs to help states assess the safety of drinking water. In addition, then-Governor Hassan worked with state agencies, federal partners, and residents in the area to make blood tests available to everyone potentially exposed to PFCs, as well as to raise awareness about the health risks of these emerging contaminants and to expand monitoring of wells outside of the Coakley landfill footprint. Furthermore, Senator Hassan formed the Governor’s Task Force on the Seacoast Cancer Cluster to help create an organized response to the health and environmental concerns that the Seacoast pediatric cancer cluster has raised. In the Senate, Senator Hassan has built on those efforts, cosponsoring legislation that requires the EPA to develop a maximum contaminant level for perfluorinated compounds, 1,4 dioxane, and perchlorate in public water systems across America within two years of the bill’s enactment. Both Senator Hassan and Senator Shaheen urged the U.S. Air Force to clean up water supplies at the former Pease Air Force Base that are contaminated with PFCs.

Senators Shaheen and Hassan have worked tirelessly to hold the EPA accountable for actions that undermine efforts to inform the public about the potential health implications caused by exposure to emerging contaminants. Earlier this month, the senators sent a letter to Acting Administrator Deborah Szaro questioning the timing of the EPA’s disclosurethat determined the Coakley Landfill does not pose an “unacceptable human health risk.” Last week, the EPA responded to the senators’ letter. Senators Shaheen and Hassan will continue to demand much needed answers from the EPA on behalf of New Hampshire families.

The letter to Administrator Pruitt can be read here and below.

10-27-17_NH delegation letter to EPA on TSCA

Shaheen and Hassan Hold Press Conference to Raise Awareness of Health Insurance Open Enrollment Period

(Manchester, NH) – Today, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) held a press conference at Manchester Community Health Center to highlight the health insurance open enrollment period, which runs from November 1st through December 15th. While legislative efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have repeatedly failed, the Trump administration has accelerated attempts to sabotage the ACA, which includes ending cost-sharing reduction payments that help low and middle-income families afford insurance, repealing the birth control mandate, cutting the open enrollment period in half and shutting down the sign-up website for 12 hours nearly every Sunday of the enrollment period.

“The Trump administration has been actively sabotaging the Affordable Care Act and disrupting healthcare marketplaces. Because of the administration’s attempts to undermine the law, it’s up to each of us to get the word out to family members and friends that the enrollment period begins on November 1st – in just 2 days,” said Senator Shaheen. “I’ll continue to support bipartisan measures to restore funding for enrollment ads and outreach, lower premiums, and strengthen key elements of the law. In the meantime, every Granite Stater can also play a role by helping us spread the word to our friends and neighbors that quality health coverage under the ACA is available to all who need it.”

“It is essential that Granite Staters know their options to take advantage of the open enrollment period from November 1 through December 15 and get the health and economic security that quality, affordable health insurance offers,” Senator Hassan said. “While the Trump Administration is slashing funding for advertising and in-person assistance, I will continue working to make sure that Granite Staters have the information they need to help find the plan that’s best for them. I will also keep working with Senator Shaheen and my colleagues from both parties to pass bipartisan legislation to help stabilize the markets and lower health care costs for hard-working Americans.”

Senators Shaheen and Hassan have consistently advocated for immediate action to stabilize state marketplaces and lower premiums for Granite Staters and Americans across the country. Senator Shaheen has led efforts in the Senate to provide marketplace stability by permanently continuing and increasing eligibility for cost-sharing reduction payments. Her bill, the Marketplace Certainty Act, which Senator Hassan cosponsored, would make cost-sharing reduction payments permanent and expand eligibility to more working Americans. Senators Shaheen and Hassan also helped introduce the Individual Health Insurance Marketplace Improvement Act to create a permanent reinsurance program for the individual health insurance market, similar to the successful programs used to lower premiums and spur competition in the Medicare Part D program. And earlier this month, Shaheen and Hassan joined a bipartisan group of 24 senators in support of the Bipartisan Health Care Stabilization Act of 2017, which would lower premiums and improve quality of care for patients and families across the nation.

Shea-Porter Co-Introduces Legislation Requiring Drug Companies to Negotiate Lower Drug Prices for Seniors

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) today co-introduced legislation to require the federal government to leverage its bulk purchasing power to negotiate lower Medicare drug prices for seniors.

“During the ten years I have been advocating for Medicare to negotiate the cost of prescription drugs, prices have skyrocketed while pharmaceutical companies have kept raking in astounding profits and left seniors and other taxpayers holding the bill,” said Shea-Porter. “It’s past time for Congress to stand up to Big Pharma and clamp down on these out-of-control drug prices.”

Current law, passed by a Republican majority, prohibits the Secretary of Health and Human Services from negotiating directly with pharmaceutical companies for lower Medicare drug prices. As a result, Medicare pays, on average, 73 percent more than Medicaid and 80 percent more than the Veterans Administration (VA) for brand-name drugs. If Medicare paid the same price for drugs as Medicaid and the VA, the federal government could save between $15.2 billion and $16 billion a year.

Photo by ccPix.com CC via Flickr

This bill is endorsed by the Alliance for Retired Americans, American Federation of Teachers, the Center for Medicare Advocacy, CREDO, Doctors for America, the Economic Policy Institute Policy Center, Families USA, Knowledge Ecology International, Medicare Rights Center, MoveOn, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, Patients for Affordable Drugs, Prescription Justice, Public Citizen, Social Security Works, and The Senior Citizens League.

For a copy of the legislation, click here.

For a fact sheet, click here.

Trump’s Sabotage Of The Affordable Care Act Will Hurt New Hampshire Families

Trump’s ACA Sabotage, Executive Order Will Gut Protections, Force Sickest to Pay Skyrocketing Prices, Destabilize Health Care for New Hampshire Families

Following an Executive Order that will increase junk insurance plans, news follows that President Trump will immediately end cost-sharing payments and destabilize health insurance markets

Concord, NH Yesterday, President Trump issued a new executive order that will expand the availability of junk insurance plans in a direct attempt to trigger the collapse of the entire private health insurance market and destroy the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Last night, the Trump administration signaled that it would also immediately end cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies, which analysts and advocates agree will destabilize health insurance markets in New Hampshire and across the nation.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated back in August that ending cost-sharing reductions would increase insurance premiums by 20% next year alone, effectively kick a million Americans off insurance, and add $194 billion to the deficit.

“These partisan, political acts are part of Trump’s relentless campaign to sabotage the ACA by forcing premium increases, creating instability in the market, actively interfering with the ability of consumers to sign up for coverage, and rolling back the contraceptive coverage mandate,” said Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins. “These actions threaten the collapse of the entire individual health insurance market and leave our sick and most vulnerable to pay the price.”

“For years, Trump and Congressional Republicans have called for the repeal of the health care law without offering any viable replacement. Trump is now bent on destroying the one health care law that allowed millions of Americans to gain health insurance and improved coverage for essential health care benefits like maternity, mental health, and prescription drugs. Trump is stripping these important consumer protections and ending critical payments that help millions of lower-income Americans afford coverage. Any problems in our health care system from here on out rest solely at the feet of President Trump and other politicians who have created instability and skyrocketing premiums, and allowed the sale of junk plans without the essential health coverage people need when they are sick,” Rice-Hawkins added.

“Last night, Trumpcare became a reality. By refusing to continue cost-sharing reduction payments, President Trump has committed his most shameful act of sabotage on the insurance markets, threatening the health and wellbeing of millions of Americans and making premiums skyrocket for millions more,” said Raymond Buckley, Chair of the NH Democratic Party.  “Governor Sununu’s self-proclaimed closeness with Trump and his administration hasn’t yielded any help for New Hampshire. Instead, Sununu’s constant praise and support of Trump is starting to look like blind flattery.”

Buckley continued, “Make no mistake, Governor Sununu has precipitated Trump’s sabotage by fueling the flames of ACA repeal,  opposing Medicaid expansion, supporting various forms of Trumpcare, proposing Medicaid block grants, rejecting a reinsurance program, and refusing to join a bipartisan group of governors in calling for the protection of key health care protections. Rather than actively campaigning against dangerous Republican health care ideas, Sununu has either stayed silent or belatedly voiced his opposition once and disappeared. That is not leadership. Sununu is engaging in political calculation when Granite Staters need its governor the most.”

In a letter to President Trump in August, Governor Chris Sununu called for Trump to continue the cost sharing reduction payments. One of the main requests in the letter:

“Commit to funding CSR reimbursements for 2017 and 2018: Carriers calculate their rates far in advance, so continued uncertainty about the reimbursements fuel dramatic increases and could lead them to exit the market. This hurts consumers – most of all, those who cannot get coverage through work and do not qualify for federal subsidies. While I am sympathetic to the argument that these payments are a subsidy, to withhold them at this late date as carriers are trying to calculate rates is resulting in significant instability and further rate increases and fewer options.”

“Despite the American people’s rejection of the Affordable Care Act repeal, this new order is part of a concerted effort by the Trump administration to unravel the law’s patient protections and to destabilize healthcare marketplaces,” said Senator Shaheen. “This order only introduces more unnecessary chaos into our healthcare system, which undermines the healthcare that Granite Staters, and all Americans, depend on. The President must abandon these political efforts to destabilize the ACA, and finally prioritize working with Congress to address and fix this manufactured crisis. There are Republicans and Democrats who are ready to move forward with bipartisan legislation that will provide stability in the insurance marketplace, increase access to care and lower cost sharing.”

Senator Shaheen is leading efforts in the Senate to provide marketplace stability by permanently continuing and increasing eligibility for cost-sharing reduction payments. Her bill, the Marketplace Certainty Act, would make cost-sharing reduction payments permanent and expand eligibility to more working Americans.

“By deciding to stop payments for so-called cost-sharing reductions – which help lower deductibles, co-pays, and other out-of-pocket expenses – President Trump is cruelly and intentionally raising health care costs for millions of Americans,” said Senator Maggie Hassan. “The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found that stopping these payments would cause health insurance premiums to skyrocket for millions of Americans while also ballooning the federal deficit, yet the President moved forward with this plan out of political spite. I have pushed for months to get Congress to act to provide certainty around these payments and help block the Trump Administration’s blatant sabotage attempts, and now is the time to finally stop this madness.”

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter said that Trump should be “ashamed” for his actions that “will torpedo the individual insurance market”

“He is right to be so ashamed of this spiteful action he would only announce it in the dead of night. Stopping these payments won’t just hurt the lower-income people whose out-of-pocket costs are defrayed by CSRs, it will also hurt every one of the millions of Americans who buy their own coverage. That’s because insurance companies say they are going to charge everyone more to make up for the lost funding. Congress must act immediately to fund CSRs and protect our constituents from Trump’s vengeful and destructive actions.”

Congresswoman Annie Kuster also spoke out against the order.

“President Trump’s announcement today sadly continues to take us in the wrong direction on health care. During the last several months, I have been encouraged by conversations with both Republicans and Democrats about how we can address the ongoing challenges with the Affordable Care Act.  I believe that there are areas where we can all agree on solutions to fix issues faced by some Americans. Today’s executive order simply reverts back to the failed repeal and replace mantra. This executive order will result in higher costs to consumers and less access to health care for Granite State families. I will continue to work with my Democratic and Republican colleagues to look for commonsense solutions to stabilize the individual marketplace and strengthen our health care system.”

This executive order is not about helping people gain insurance coverage it is outright sabotage.  Millions of hard working Americans will be harmed by this executive order.  Some will lose their coverage. Some will be force to go without coverage because the costs are too high. Some will be forced to pay outrageously high premiums as they have no other option for coverage.

The American People spoke out loud and clear against the Republican healthcare plan. The Senate rejected the measure over and over because even some Republicans know that this plan will due massive harm to the American people.  But President Trump does not care about the will of the people, he is running the country like a unhinged tyrant.


UPDATED to include statement from NH Democratic Leadership

Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn, Senate Deputy Democratic Leader Donna Soucy, House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff and House Deputy Democratic Leader Cindy Rosenwald issued the following joint statement:

“President Trump’s decision to end cost-sharing reduction payments will dramatically hurt New Hampshire families’ ability to afford and access the health insurance they need. The Trump administration’s varied attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and its protections are shameful and it is abundantly clear that this effort is an attempt to settle a political score rather than act in the best interest of the American people.

Today, we are calling on Governor Sununu and New Hampshire’s Republican legislative leaders to pass a reinsurance program to provide as much relief as possible to Granite Staters who will see premiums go up an average of 20% next year as a result of President Trump’s decision to cancel CSR payments. We are also calling on New Hampshire’s Attorney General Gordon MacDonald to join Attorneys General across the country who are promising to sue the Trump administration to protect cost-sharing reductions. We will work with anyone, anywhere to make sure Granite Staters continue to see the protections and guarantees they have received under the Affordable Care Act and fight back against President Trump’s destructive sabotage.”

Trump ‘Rolls Back’ Mandatory Birth Control Coverage

In their continued assault on women’s reproductive rights, the Trump administration just announced a new “roll back” of employer mandated coverage for birth control.

“The new regulations, effective immediately, would exempt all employers and insurers from covering or paying for coverage of contraceptives if they object “based on its sincerely held religious beliefs,” or have other “moral convictions” against covering such care,” wrote the Atlantic Magazine. “Employers were required to cover at least one of all of the 18 FDA-approved methods of birth control with no cost-sharing for the patient.”

The Affordable Care Act’s birth control provision saved women an estimated $1.4 billion on birth control pills in its first year alone. Thanks to this benefit, more than 62 million women now have access to birth control without copayments.

“The Trump administration just took direct aim at birth control coverage for 62 million women. This is an unacceptable attack on basic health care that the vast majority of women rely on,” said Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood. “With this rule in place, any employer could decide that their employees no longer have health insurance coverage for birth control.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, after the Affordable Care Act’s birth control provision took effect, fewer than 4 percent of American women had to pay out of pocket for oral birth control. That number was more than 20 percent before the law’s passage. Specifically in New Hampshire, 58% of women get their healthcare from their employer.

“Birth control is not controversial — it’s health care the vast majority of women will use in the course of their lifetime. Two million women rely on Planned Parenthood health centers each year for birth control. Nine out of ten women of reproductive age will use birth control in their lifetime.  This administration is carrying out a full-scale attack on birth control— eliminating insurance coverage for birth control, eliminating programs that help women with low incomes access birth control, and moving to prohibit health care providers from even giving women information about birth control or abortion. We cannot allow President Trump to roll back the progress women have made over the past century,” added Richards.

“This administration’s obsession with rolling back women’s reproductive rights and access to care is dangerous and reflects a shallow understanding of women’s health,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “This order will undoubtedly increase unwanted pregnancies and abortions, at a time when both are at an all-time low. I will continue to fight for women’s access to coverage for preventative services, including birth control, and will oppose any effort that infringes on, or compromises, their reproductive freedom. I urge the President to consult health experts and reverse this ill-considered policy shift, and work with Democrats to improve access to healthcare, which includes reproductive health services. ”

Senator Shaheen is a dedicated advocate for women’s reproductive rights. Senator Shaheen has been fighting for years to increase coverage of women’s preventative care in the annual defense authorization bill, and just last month, added an amendment to an appropriations bill that would boost funding for international family planning and reproductive health programs, and repeal the Global Gag Rule.

“Protecting women’s rights to make their own reproductive health decisions is critical to ensuring that women can fully participate in our economy, and also in our democracy,” Senator Maggie Hassan said. “Rolling back full coverage, with no out of pocket costs, for birth control is a direct attack on women’s access to health care and on their right to make their own health care decisions. Nine out of ten women of reproductive age will use contraception at some point in their lives.  Since this benefit went into effect, women nationwide have saved over $1.4 billion on birth control, and this move by the Trump Administration would put a financial burden on hundreds of thousands of women. It is unacceptable that the Trump Administration has repeatedly worked to undermine women’s access to critical health services, and I will continue fighting back against these attacks, including working to ensure that all women have the essential preventative health services they need at no out-of-pocket cost.”

Earlier this year, Senator Hassan helped introduce the Save Women’s Preventative Care Act to ensure that coverage for preventative health care services, such as breast cancer screenings, birth control, and domestic violence screenings, can’t be revised or rolled back by the Trump Administration.

“I am outraged by the Trump Administration’s most sweeping attack yet on women’s access to health care,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. “The vast majority of American women get their health insurance through an employer, and this rule will endanger their access to contraceptives, which are used by many women to treat medical conditions as well as to prevent unwanted pregnancy. We must defeat this rule and make it clear to President Trump that women and men reject this interference in access to birth control.”

“Birth control is an important medication for millions of women and efforts by the Trump Administration to limit access to contraceptives are appalling,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “The rule announced today would allow employers to deny coverage for contraceptives,  making them unaffordable for many women in New Hampshire and across the country. I will fight this misguided move by President Trump to deny access to what is truly basic health care.”

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