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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.”

Senator Shaheen Presses Trump Appointee, Governor Brownbeck, On New Hampshire Deportations

Shaheen Presses Religious Freedom Ambassador Nominee on Trump Administration’s Efforts to Deport Indonesians Who Fled Religious Persecution

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, pressed Governor Sam Brownback on the Trump administration’s deportation of individuals who came to the United States fleeing religious persecution during his confirmation hearing to serve as Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. During her questioning, Shaheen addressed the Trump administration’s planned deportation of members of New Hampshire’s Indonesian community, asking Brownback how the United States could be a model for treating people of all faiths fairly, yet send members of the New Hampshire Indonesian community back to the country they fled to face certain persecution. Brownback responded by saying that he believes that “we should accept people fleeing religious persecution.”

In 2012, Senator Shaheen’s office helped negotiate an agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to allow Indonesian immigrants to remain in New Hampshire and obtain work permits in exchange for a commitment to regularly check-in with ICE. This agreement was recently reversed by ICE under the Trump administration, and these individuals were ordered to begin making preparations for deportation. Senator Shaheen has called senior officials in the Trump administration on behalf of the Indonesian community, including the Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke, Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Tom Homan and Deputy National Security Advisor Dina Powell.

The Republican Sabotage Of Healthcare

We can all agree that the Affordable Care Act is not perfect but it was a monumental step in the right direction at a time when insurance companies were raking in record profits, jacking up rates by double digits, making the cost of insurance unaffordable for millions of Americans.

Since the ACA passed, Republicans have been trying to repeal it. Over the last eight years, Republicans have made more than 60 attempts to repeal the bill and only in the last six months have they ever offered any type of replacement.

Their latest replacement plan, that was ironically killed by three moderate Republicans in the Senate, would have kicked an estimated 32 million Americans off of their healthcare plans and would have transitioned Medicaid into a block grant system.  Ending Medicaid would have left millions of children, seniors, and the disabled without out any coverage at all.

Medicaid is the largest single provider of insurance in the country.  Nearly 40% of all child births in New Hampshire are covered by Medicaid.  Medicaid covers the cost for millions of disabled Americans who use funds to live in their own homes.  This is why dozens of ADAPT (Americans Disabled Attendant Programs Today) members protested during the Senate hearing on the Graham-Cassidy bill.

“Graham-Cassidy is the worst bill yet that Republicans have come up with to repeal Obamacare. This wasn’t what they campaigned on; they didn’t campaign to strip away the services that disabled people and seniors rely on to live in the community,” said Bruce Darling, an organizer with ADAPT. “They campaigned on fixing Obamacare and I don’t understand why they continue to target our community with cuts that will steal disabled lives instead of actually fixing anything.”

Cuts to Medicaid funding will fall first and hardest on community based services, forcing disabled people into institutions which will be underfunded hives of abuse, neglect, and human misery.

“The cuts to Medicaid funding are cruel and un-American,” said Dawn Russell, ADAPT organizer from Denver Colorado. “Forcing disabled people and seniors into institutions just to pay for tax cuts, which is what this bill does, is not equality. It’s not liberty. Graham-Cassidy is a policy for a much crueler and meaner country than this one, and the people who support it should be ashamed of themselves.”

Recently, Senator Hassan shared the story of Bodhi Bhattari, a Concord boy who experiences spinal muscular atrophy and needs hundreds of thousands of dollars in life-saving drugs every year. Bodhi’s mother, Deodonne Bhattarai, told WMUR that under the Graham-Cassidy Trumpcare proposal, “If we sold our house, we could probably keep him alive for another year.”

Now, the New Hampshire Department of Insurance estimates that 25,000 people, who get their insurance from the healthcare exchange, will see a 52% increase.

“Among 97,000 people in the individual insurance market, the 74 percent who either get federal subsidies or are part of the expanded Medicaid program will likely see their premiums drop or remain flat in 2018. But the 26 percent who pay the full cost will see sharp increases,” wrote Holly Ramer of the Associated Press.

The news of this dramatic increase on those trying to provide healthcare for their families, outraged legislators.

“I am outraged that some middle-class New Hampshire families will suffer huge premium hikes next year because of the chaos D.C. Republicans have created in the individual insurance market,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter.  “This is exactly why I spent the past year urging my colleagues to pass bipartisan marketplace stabilization legislation, which would have provided insurers with needed certainty, and also why Congress should pass my bill, the Medicare You Can Opt Into Act, and make sure every American has an affordable option that’s not vulnerable to profit-driven rate hikes.”

“That said, let me be clear: thanks to the Affordable Care Act and its Medicaid expansion, New Hampshire’s uninsured rate is at an all-time low, and I will not allow Republican state officials to use the disruption their party has caused in the individual market as justification to jeopardize that progress by ending an essential program that covers over 50,000 people in New Hampshire,” Shea-Porter added.

In the US Senate, Senator Shaheen has been working to avoid these rate hikes. Earlier this year, Senator Shaheen introduced the Marketplace Certainty Act to permanently appropriate payments for cost-sharing reductions to help stabilize state marketplaces and expand eligibility for hard-working Americans who need help paying their premiums.

“These rate increases for next year would be devastating, yet have always been avoidable,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “This administration has followed through on President Trump’s threat to sabotage healthcare marketplaces as leverage to repeal the Affordable Care Act. New Hampshire families are now forced to pay the price for the Trump administration’s shameful behavior. I have been pleading with Republican leadership to allow bipartisan efforts to stabilize the healthcare marketplace to move forward, but instead, they chose to use this valuable time to make another attempt at repealing the Affordable Care Act—a law that has helped tens of thousands of Granite Staters gain access to healthcare coverage. Republicans must return to the negotiating table and work with Democrats to craft bipartisan legislation that would stabilize the marketplaces. We need to work together to mitigate the harm caused by the Administration and help working families access quality and affordable insurance.”

As a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Senator Maggie Hassan participated this month in bipartisan health care hearings focused on stabilizing the individual health insurance market and lowering costs.

At a press conference after the defeat of the Graham-Cassidy bill, Senator Hassan said:

“We know that there is more to do on health care. There isn’t a Democrat here who doesn’t know that there are improvements we need to make. I am committed to working with members of both parties on the HELP Committee and throughout the United States Senate to come together and find ways in the short-term to stabilize our markets and lower costs. We have to address pharmaceutical costs. We have to address health care outcomes. But as long as there is this threat out there of another Trumpcare attempt, it’s going to be harder for us to do that, and it’s going to cause disruption in the very lives of the people we were sent here to represent.”

In the U.S. House, Congresswoman Annie Kuster, who also saw the possibility of massive rate hikes looming, has been working to stabilize the marketplace. Earlier this year, Kuster and nine House Democrats unveiled a five-part plan to improve upon the Affordable Care Act and stabilize the individual marketplace.

“I’ve discussed with Republican colleagues various proposals to stabilize the individual marketplace and rein in costs. I genuinely believe that there are many areas of agreement that can be reached to improve our healthcare system and I’m hopeful that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will come to the table in good faith to get this done for the American people,” said Kuster.

Not only has the President and the Republican leadership actively worked to repeal the ACA, they have been ensuring its failure by slashing funding to the program.

Congresswoman Shea-Porter pushed back by calling on the President to release funding allocated for the exchange “navigators” program.

“Navigators are an essential resource for the American people, and the Navigator program is critical to the success of Open Enrollment. We urge you to unfreeze these funds immediately,” Shea-Porter wrote. “Americans already face a number of new hurdles to enrolling in coverage during the upcoming Open Enrollment period, including an enrollment timeframe that has been cut in half and a 90% cut to the outreach budget that could have informed consumers about this significant change. Destabilizing the Navigator program could further compound the challenges consumers will face in understanding when and how to enroll.”

Shea-Porter also submitted an amendment that would save the Navigator grant program from elimination in House Republicans’ Fiscal Year 2018 omnibus appropriations bill.

We have known for a while that the ACA needs adjustments, but you would not toss out your car because of a loose spark plug.  We need to stop this ideological and political attack on the ACA and do what is really needed to help working families.

Of course there are many among us who believe the best way to solve the entire insurance issue is to eliminate private insurance all together and move to a national single player system.

Senators Send Letter To HHS To Extend DACA Renewals In Wake Of Storms

Senators Shaheen, Hassan Join Colleagues Calling for Extension of DACA Renewal Deadline in Wake of Storms

WASHINGTONIn the wake of three massive storms that have disrupted the day-to-day lives of millions of people in the U.S., Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined a group of their colleagues in calling on the Trump administration to extend the crucial Oct. 5 deadline for Dreamers to renew their DACA status. The group made the request in a letter to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke.

“These major hurricanes significantly disrupted day to day living and operations in these states and territories,” the lawmakers wrote. “It would be appropriate for the government to extend the October 5, 2017 deadline nationwide to allow individuals adequate time to meet the government’s recent request.”

The Trump administration announced earlier this month that it was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program which allows some immigrants who came to the U.S. before the age of 16 to work and go to school without the fear of being deported.

In ending the program, the administration is allowing some Dreamers currently enrolled to apply for a renewal. Those renewal applications and a $495 fee are due by Oct. 5 and the lawmakers fear the recent disruptions caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria could make it nearly impossible for some eligible Dreamers to meet the deadline.

“Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico are still working to recover and will be for some time,” the lawmakers wrote. “An extension of the deadline would provide DACA recipients more time to collect the $495 application fee and gather the necessary documents to accurately complete the renewal application.”

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), tens of thousands of DACA recipients live in areas impacted by the storms.

 

Following is the text of the lawmakers’ letter, and a PDF copy is available here:  

September 25, 2017

The Honorable Elaine Duke, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security

 

Dear Acting Secretary Duke:

We are writing to request that you extend the current October 5, 2017 deadline for individuals to submit appropriate applications to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for renewals under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program.

On September 5, 2017, the Administration announced the end of the current DACA program. According to that announcement, the government will continue to accept DACA renewal applications until October 5, 2017, for individuals whose current DACA status expires by March 5, 2018.

As you know, in the last month, several major hurricanes made landfall in the Unites States. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma devastated Texas and Florida. Hurricane Maria recently crippled Puerto Rico, leaving the entire island without electricity. The hurricanes took lives, flooded communities, ruined homes and businesses, and displaced thousands. These major hurricanes significantly disrupted day to day living and operations in these states and territories. Volunteers from across the country have poured in to help with relief efforts, and millions of Americans have family and friends living in the affected areas. According to the latest data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), tens of thousands of DACA recipients live in areas impacted by the storms, and DACA recipients served as first responders in the rescue and recovery efforts. Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico are still working to recover and will be for some time.

In particular in light of these events, it would be appropriate for the government to extend the October 5, 2017 deadline nationwide to allow individuals adequate time to meet the government’s recent request. An extension of the deadline would provide DACA recipients more time to collect the $495 application fee and gather the necessary documents to accurately complete the renewal application. We appreciate that the government has extended other filing deadlines due to the storms.

Thank you for your timely consideration of this request, as we continue to work on enshrining permanent protections for Dreamers into law.

Sincerely,

Senators Shaheen and Hassan Speak Out Against Latest ACA Repeal Bill

Republicans in the U.S. Senate are doing their best to rip healthcare away from millions of working families and put insurance companies back in control of your healthcare where they can deny care, charge more to women, and drop coverage when you get sick.

The Graham-Cassidy bill is just the latest attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act and the Republicans are moving quickly to pass it.  The Republicans are using legislative tricks to force this bill through but those tricks have a time limit too. They must get their bill passed by September 30th or they will not have enough votes to pass it.

The bill has not had any hearings and has not been scored by the Congressional Budget Office to see what the impact of this legislation would be to working families and our national debt.  Current estimates from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities show that the Graham-Cassidy bill would kick 32 million Americans off their healthcare.

The bill hits working families the hardest by eliminated subsidies to purchase healthcare from the “Exchange” and completely eliminates the funding for Medicaid Expansion programs.  The $229 billion dollar cuts to the Medicaid Expansion program would strip healthcare from 11 million Americans alone.

New Hampshire’s senior Senator, Jeanne Shaheen, spoke with CNN yesterday about the devastating cuts facing New Hampshire families if this bill goes through. She highlighted the $410 million in federal funding that New Hampshire would lose forcing 30,000 hard-working Granite Staters off their healthcare.

Senator Maggie Hassan, the former Governor of New Hampshire, who worked with both parties to expand Medicaid and help 50,000 NH families get coverage, took to the Senate floor to speak out against the disastrous legislation.

Speaking on the Graham-Cassidy bill, Senator Hassan said the bill is “every bit as dangerous as the Trumpcare plans we saw this summer – if not worse.’

We must not let the Republicans take us back to when greedy insurance companies do whatever they want. Denying care when you get sick, charging more for women than men, and denying coverage because of a “pre-existing conditions.”

We all know the Affordable Care Act is not perfect, but we need to build on it, not destroy it.  We need to keep what is right and fix what is wrong.

Please take a moment to call your Senator and tell them to oppose this disastrous piece of legislation. Pick up the phone and dial, (202) 224-3121 to be connected to the Senate switchboard.

If your Senator has already come out against the Graham-Cassidy bill, call them and thank them for standing up for working families and let them know you support their decision.

It is vitally important that people from Maine, Ohio, Alaska and Arizona make calls to their Senators.  Sen Collins from Maine, Senator McCain of Arizona, and Senator Murkowski of Alaska all voted against the previous attempts to repeal the ACA and are said to be “on the fence” about the Graham-Cassidy bill.  Call them. Thank them for voting against the repeal efforts before and tell them to vote “No” on the Graham-Cassidy bill. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities research shows how much each state will lose under this new plan.

Millions of hard-working Americans will lose access to care and people will die because insurance companies will be allowed to deny care to people with pre-existing conditions.

Call your Senator now, (202) 224-3121.

Senate Passes National Defense Authorization Act With Praise From Shaheen, Hassan

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Senate passed the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is critical legislation outlining the nation’s defense priorities for the fiscal year. The bill includes the following provisions spearheaded by U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), who is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee:

  • Shaheen’s bipartisan amendment that would direct the Department of Defense to fund a nationwide health study on implications of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), such as PFOA, in drinking water. In May, the Air Force announced it would not fund a health study of water contamination around Haven Well at the Pease International Tradeport – Shaheen’s amendment establishes the first-ever nationwide study on the human health effects of those exposed to PFCs in their drinking water;
  • Shaheen’s amendment to ban Kaspersky Lab software from being used by the federal government. The Moscow-based software company has ties to the Kremlin. Shaheen’s previous amendment to ban Kaspersky Lab software from being used by the Department of Defense was included in the committee-passed version of the bill in June. Last week, the Trump administration heeded Senator Shaheen’s call to ban the software company from all federal agencies;
  • Shaheen’s amendment encourages military exchanges (retail stores), including the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) on 3,100 U.S. Army and Air Force installations worldwide, to select more small business suppliers for its convenience and department stores;
  • Shaheen’s amendment to expand the ability of small businesses in rural areas to participate in the Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) program, which helps small businesses sell to the federal government;
  • Shaheen’s amendment to ensure that all non-active service members and their dependents have contraception coverage with no cost-share, bringing TRICARE in line with standard civilian birth control coverage;
  • Shaheen negotiated an additional 4,000 visas for the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program. The SIV program allows Afghan interpreters and support staff who have assisted in the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and face threats as a result of their service to apply for refuge in the United States. Shaheen’s efforts have been instrumental in keeping this program operating for the brave men and women who have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Americans in the field, putting themselves and their families at risk to support American troops and operations.

“This bill contains a number of measures to help our communities, including my bipartisan amendment to authorize the Department of Defense to fund a health study on PFOA contaminant, which has polluted water supplies across the nation, and among them, the Haven Well at Pease International Tradeport,” said Shaheen. “The affected communities in New Hampshire have been fighting tirelessly for answers about the risks from exposure to perfluorinated chemicals in their drinking water. They deserve answers, and this measure will help do just that. Going forward, I’ll work to ensure that this national study pays particular attention to the health impacts on Seacoast residents so we can give peace of mind to New Hampshire families who have been impacted by these contaminants.”

“The case against Kaspersky Lab is overwhelming. The strong ties between Kaspersky Lab and the Kremlin are alarming and well-documented. I’m very pleased that the Senate has acted in a bipartisan way on my amendment that removes a real vulnerability to our national security. I applaud the Trump administration for heeding my call to remove Kaspersky Lab software from all federal computers. It’s important that this prohibition also be a part of statute and be expanded to the entire federal government, as my amendment would do. Considering the strong bipartisan, bicameral support for this proposal, I’m optimistic this will soon be signed into law.”

“We are forever indebted to the courageous Afghan civilian interpreters who risk their lives to help American forces. Their efforts have not only supported the United States’ mission in Afghanistan, but they have protected and saved the lives of our service members in the field, helping to ensure that our soldiers make it home to their families. Though investments in this program have previously wavered, I’m encouraged by this bill’s authorization to bolster visa allocations for interpreters and support staff, and I have confidence that Congress will build on this progress as we move forward,” Shaheen concluded.

Senator Maggie Hassan voted to support the legislation and released the following statement.

“In the face of a vast number of national security threats we face as a country, it is essential that the brave men and women who put their lives on the line every day to defend our freedom have the support and resources necessary to keep all Granite Staters and Americans safe,” said Senator Hassan. “I am proud to support the bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, which supports critical priorities for our national security including providing important funding to upgrade facilities at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.”

“This bipartisan legislation will not only help strengthen security in New Hampshire, but will help boost our economy and create jobs by authorizing funding for the procurement of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, which several suppliers in the Granite State help develop,” Senator Hassan added. “I will continue working across the aisle to ensure that our state and our country remain the strongest military force, while also remaining the greatest force for good.”

The NDAA for 2018 also establishes a nationwide health study on perfluorinated chemicals and other emerging contaminants in drinking war, it includes a 2.1 percent pay increase for U.S. military personnel.

The NDAA passed the Senate by a vote of 89 to 8.

The Senate and House of Representatives will now go to conference on the legislation where it will be finalized and sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

Senator Shaheen Joins With Sen Sanders In Support Of Medicare For All

Image by Molly Adams FLKR CC

Shaheen Announces Support for Medicare For All Act Introduced by Senator Sanders and Reiterates Need for Immediate Bipartisan Fixes to Current System

(Washington, DC)— “I support the Medicare For All Act because I believe that healthcare should be a fundamental right in this country,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen (NH). “Too many Granite Staters continue to struggle to access quality affordable healthcare. I know that in a Republican-controlled Congress this legislation will not pass in the near term, but I believe this bill puts pressure on Congress to think big when it comes to providing the healthcare that all Americans need and deserve. The immediate task at hand for Congress is to stabilize the current healthcare marketplace and find bipartisan means to drive down costs. I am encouraged by recent bipartisan healthcare hearings and I’m optimistic that Congress will soon act to pass bipartisan legislation that makes necessary adjustments to the Affordable Care Act, including my proposal to continue providing cost-sharing support to working families.”

Senator Bernie Sanders introduced his Medicare for All bill this morning and released the following video encouraging more people to get behind the Medicare for All movement.

In an email to supporters Sen Bernie Sanders wrote:

“The American people are with us on this issue. They understand that it is absurd that we spend almost twice as much per capita on health care as any other country and that we pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. They also know that we already have a very popular and effective single-payer system in this country. It’s called Medicare, and it has succeeded in providing near-universal coverage to Americans over the age of 65. It is time to expand Medicare to all.

…Medicare for All means that Americans will no longer hesitate about going to the doctor because they can’t afford the cost. It will mean that a hospital stay will not bankrupt us or leave us deeply in debt. It will mean that we can go to the doctor we want, not just one in our particular plan. It will mean that we will no longer be spending enormous amounts of time filling out complicated forms and arguing with insurance companies as to whether or not we have the coverage we paid for. It will mean that we will be able to get the prescription drugs we need at a price we can afford. It will mean that middle class families will not have to spend 20 or 30 percent of their incomes on health care.”

CNN reports:

“Under Sanders’ proposal, Americans would receive a “Universal Medicare card” that would be a ticket to a comprehensive health care services, including hospital stays, doctor visits, substance abuse treatment, dental, vision and reproductive care — including abortion.

…The bill calls for the elimination of premiums for private health insurance, deductibles and co-pays. However, most Americans and businesses will pay what Sanders says is a much smaller share of their income to fund the program.”

Senator Shaheen joins the other 15 Senate co-sponsors of Sanders bill: Tammy Baldwin, Richard Blumenthal, Cory Booker, Al Franken, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Martin Heinrich, Mazie Hirono, Patrick Leahy, Ed Markey, Jeff Merkley, Brian Schatz, Tom Udall, Elizabeth Warren, and Sheldon Whitehouse.

To address our current healthcare problems, Senator Shaheen introduced the Marketplace Certainty Act earlier this year, which permanently appropriates payments for cost-sharing reductions to provide stability in marketplaces and bring down premiums, and also expands eligibility for these reductions to more Americans. Last week, Senator Shaheen applauded the bipartisan efforts led by Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) as the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held a series of healthcare hearings with state insurance commissioners and governors on bipartisan measures to fix the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Call you Senators and ask them to co-sponsor Senator Sanders Medicare For All bill today.

Trump’s Sham Commission On Voting Integrity Meets In New Hampshire

Yesterday, the Presidential Advisory Commission on Voting Integrity convened their second official meeting at St. Anslem College, in Manchester, New Hampshire. The group, led by right-wing extremist Kris Kobach, who is currently the Kansas Secretary of State, continued to take aim at our voting rights.

Kobach gained local notoriety over the past week as he made the claim that Senator Maggie Hassan only won because of thousands of illegal votes from out of state residents. He claimed that because 3,000 people voted in NH with out of state licenses that their votes were examples of voter fraud. The claim was quickly debunked due to the fact that NH does not require voters to have NH drivers license or to register their automobile with the state in order to legally vote.

“It’s alarming to see New Hampshire being singled out by the national voter suppression movement,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. “This Commission has no claim to credibility after failing to condemn last week’s out-and-out lies from Vice Chair Kris Kobach about our state’s voters. Granite Staters should consider any claims made during this meeting with extreme skepticism.”

“Study after study, report and report, and even previous commissions have shown that voter fraud is extremely rare and always very isolated,” said Alex Padilla, California Secretary of State. “That is proof that the current protections are working, but we have policies and technologies in place to allow us to facilitate the participation in the political process to more and more citizens. We have a moral obligation to do that.”

Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who is currently serving the people of New Hampshire in the U.S. Senate in Washington D.C, submitted written testimony to the commission.

In her testimony, Senator Shaheen condemns the commission’s clear intention to make it more difficult for Granite Staters to vote, writing, “The truth is that, here in New Hampshire and across the nation, voter fraud is extremely rare. I am deeply concerned that falsehoods about illegal voting are being spread as a pretext for restricting access to the ballot box. This risks disenfranchising eligible voters and undermining faith in our democracy.”

“Granite Staters take pride in our state’s brand of open and direct democracy, which encourages maximum participation, including by college students and active-duty members of the military who live in our state.  It is not the New Hampshire way to make voting unnecessarily difficult or to target specific groups of voters with deliberately onerous ID laws,” Shaheen wrote.

Senator Maggie Hassan joined Senator Shaheen in submitting legislation to disband the commission.

“I am deeply concerned that since its inception President Trump’s voting commission has attempted to mislead voters and erode trust in the voting process by pushing misleading claims that have been debunked time and again. It is clear that this commission is simply a partisan exercise to lay the groundwork for new attempts at voter suppression, which is why I joined Senator Shaheen in cosponsoring a bill to disband the commission.”

“President Trump’s voter commission has been formed with the predetermined conclusion that voter fraud is a widespread problem and that restrictive voter ID laws are necessary to safeguard our democracy,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “This is despite the fact there is no evidence of such fraud. Rather than protecting our democracy, voter suppression efforts threaten to undermine the legitimate right of people to exercise their self-determination at the ballot box.”

Kuster added, “The accusations levied by Secretary Kobach are an insult to thousands of local officials and volunteers, both Republican and Democrat, who ensure our free and fair elections in New Hampshire and make the Granite State worthy of being the first-in-the-nation presidential primary.”

“Our elected officials should be working to facilitate civic involvement and build voter participation, especially amongst college students and younger voters,” said St. Anselm student Olivia Teixeira on behalf of the NH Young Democrats. “Instead, with sham commissions like the one meeting today on my campus and through bills like SB 3, Republican’s are using baseless lies of voter fraud in an attempt to suppress voter turnout.”

“If we want to  attract and retain young people to our state, we should be working to empower younger voters to take part in our state’s proud democratic process by advocating for modernizing our voting systems and registration,” Teixeira added.

Aside from the continued discussion on the non-existent voter fraud problem the commission also discussed possible solutions to “strengthen” the integrity of the election process.

At one point, John Lott, a right-wing shill, proposed the idea of using the same background check system we currently use to buy firearms to verify a voters’ eligibility.  Lott is new to “voting rights” advocates however he is well know in “gun rights” circles.  Even before Lott presented his skewed testimony, the Brennan Center for Justice issued a warning, not to believe Lott’s “fuzzy math.”

“Lott’s statistical analysis includes far too many variables and controls – a tell-tale sign of statistical chicanery,” wrote the Brennan Center for Justice.

Additionally, Commission member and former Ohio Secretary of State, Ken Blackwell, suggested that long lines at the polls were a “good strategy.” This is the same man who “distributed voter lists with the Social Security numbers of 5.7 million voters.”

“Today, we met the various characters who decorate Trump’s sham commission. Unfortunately, their fringe conspiratorial thinking is not a caricature but an understatement,” said NH Democratic Party Chair, Ray Buckley. “From absurd proposals to run registered voters through background checks to one commission member calling the creation of long voting lines a ‘good strategy’ to Kobach re-asserting his claim of voter fraud in New Hampshire, it’s clear this commission has an agenda, the focus of which is voter suppression. Kobach showed he was willing to lie to the Granite Staters’ faces about New Hampshire law and embarrass Secretary Gardner in his own state by delegitimizing election results.”

“This is a commission that welcomes, absorbs, and operates in conspiracy. President Trump is getting his way when this commission entertains baseless voter fraud claims, muddying the waters and creating uncertainty and distrust in our election system.” Buckley added.

Outside, over a hundred people gathered to protest Trump’s “sham commission.” Among the protesters were members of the NH Chapter of the League of Women Voters, the ACLU of New Hampshire, America Votes, the NAACP, Granite State Progress, Mayday.US, and the national group Let America Vote.

The protests also garnered a special appearance from Cleanup Carl. “Cleanup Carl is a 12 ft tall superhero for democracy. Committed to taking on the dirty villains trying to destroy our democracy with their toxic anti-voter influence.” Cleanup Carl is project of grassroots democracy organization MAYDAY America.

“This commission is the real threat. It’s a toxic mix for our democracy!” said Cleanup Carl through his spokesperson MAYDAY National Campaign Director Chris Tallent. “New Hampshire residents and Americans should take caution! Some of the most dangerous contaminants known to democracy, Kris Kobach, Mike Pence, and the rest of the sham ‘election integrity’ commission will be in New Hampshire this morning to try to advance their dirty agenda. That’s a volatile mix for democracy! Time to clean ‘em out of our democracy and uphold the right for everyone’s voice to be heard!”

Many of the people outside were also calling on NH’s Secretary of State, Bill Gardner, to resign from this “sham” commission.

“One thing is clear: New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner doesn’t belong with this cast of conspiratorial misfits,” said Buckley. “He has carried out free and fair elections for over four decades and any suggestion to the contrary is offensive, incorrect and dangerous. Gardner cannot risk sullying New Hampshire’s sterling reputation by remaining on a commission that is willing to travel to our state to insult us in service of a baseless conspiracy designed to suppress votes.”

Gardner, who is currently the longest serving Secretary of State, is “being used by the Trump/Pence sham commission,” said a group of New Hampshire Voters who recently started a petition calling for Gardner to resign his position in the commission.

In response to Trump’s Election Integrity Commission, the Democratic National Committee joined with allies and created the Commission to Protect American Democracy from the Trump Administration. The DNC held a press call to explain how the Trump administration’s voter fraud commission is working to suppress the fundamental democratic rights of Americans and to lay out the steps that Democrats are taking to fight back.

“Make no mistake: this isn’t a war on voter fraud, it’s a war on voters. And it’s only being waged by Republicans, and we will not let our guard down for a moment.  As Democrats, our goal is the engage every eligible American voter as an active participant in our democracy,” said Tom Perez, Chair of the DNC. “We want to make it easier for people who are eligible to vote, not harder for them to vote.  And that means fighting voter suppression tactics to create free, fair, and accessible elections.  We must protect the one right that preserves all others—the right to vote.”

“Instead of building themselves around policies that reach out to communities like minorities and low incomes folks and the elderly and the disabled, instead of doing that, they’re just going to exclude those folks from democracy.  That’s their solution.  And it’s cynical, and it’s wrong, and it’s un-American,” Jason Kander, Chair of the DNC commission, former Missouri Secretary of State, and President of Let America Vote. “We’ve had this argument before in America.  Folks marched across a bridge, American heroes did, in Selma.  And they faced batons, they faced down dogs and hoses, and it was all for the simple idea that in America everybody counts.  We shouldn’t go backward.  We should only go forward on these issues.”

Ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed public comments outlining the glaring problems with the Commission including its lack of ideological diversity or commitment to transparency in accordance with federal law.

“Today’s Commission meeting in New Hampshire lacked diversity, facts, or actual solutions to support our democracy and combat voting discrimination that we know prevents racial minorities from voting,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Instead, Kris Kobach and his colleagues continued marshaling data in misleading ways to continue building a false narrative that voter fraud exists.  This myth has been widely discredited, and yet we listened to commissioners reiterate these claims in ways that proved truly irresponsible.”

“Today’s Commission meeting must be viewed in the context of a Justice Department that has all but abandoned its obligation to enforce laws that would eliminate voting discrimination.  The Commission is part of the administration’s broader agenda to promote national policies that would make it harder for minority communities to vote,” Clarke concluded.

Senator Shaheen Offers Amendment To Protect Family Planning Services Worldwide

Shaheen’s Amendment That Repeals Global Gag Rule Added to Foreign Operations Funding Bill

Yesterday, Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s amendment to boost funds for international family planning and reproductive health programs received bipartisan support and was added to the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs annual appropriations bill that allocates federal dollars for programs directed by the US State Department.

“The global gag rule is a dangerous and ill-conceived policy that blocks millions of women and their families from receiving critical aid and assistance,” said Shaheen. “My amendment will preserve and restore funding levels for international organizations that help to prevent over fifty million unintended pregnancies around the world, and reduce the number of maternal deaths we see from those accessing unsafe abortions when the lack of family planning leaves them without options. I’m very pleased that this amendment was approved on a bipartisan basis and hope that Congress can continue to make progress to repeal this disastrous policy.”

Senator Shaheen’s amendment repeals the global gag rule, also known as the Mexico City Policy. The Mexico City Policy bans federal dollars from supporting foreign non-governmental groups that provide the full scope of family planning and maternal health services that include information about and referrals for abortions, even if these activities are funded with their own, non-US funds. By law, federal dollars are already prohibited from supporting abortions, however the Mexico City Policy goes further by banning foreign non-governmental organizations from providing information on or referrals for abortion services as part of delivering comprehensive women’s healthcare. This includes a prohibition on care and counseling for those harmed by abortions. Senator Shaheen’s amendment allows these non-governmental groups to provide family planning services, preserves previous levels of funding for USAID family planning programs, and restores the United States’ contribution to the United Nations Population Fund to 2017 funding levels.

“Protecting family planning and evidenced-based sex education is common sense,” said Jennifer Frizzell, Vice President of Public Policy, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. “We have seen that the Trump administration is determined to attack women’s health and rights daily. Champions like Senator Jeanne Shaheen in Congress are doing the work to protect access to the care that Americans, and women across the world, rely on. Despite efforts of anti-women’s health politicians to cut family planning, the bill passed by the committee yesterday protects Title X — the nation’s only federal program for birth control that 4 million women count on each year  —  and Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program that provides young people the tools to plan for their futures. The bill safeguards the programs to ensure that people’s access to these essential programs remains uninterrupted.

“In the meantime, the State and Foreign Operations bill was approved with a bipartisan amendment to restore funding for international family planning, including UNFPA, and end the dangerous “global gag rule” that was expanded by the Trump administration. Senator Jeanne Shaheen has tirelessly fought to protect women’s health and rights since her days as a legislator in New Hampshire. We applaud Senator Shaheen for leading the charge to restore these crucial U.S. investments in family planning and women’s access to healthcare, and are grateful to Senators Collins and Murkowski for supporting the amendment,” Frizzell concluded.

Senator Shaheen is a leader on women’s reproductive rights and has been advocating to repeal the global gag rule since President Trump reinstated it through an executive order in January. She led a bipartisan group of Senators and introduced the Global HER Act to repeal the dangerous policy and ensure international organizations are able to provide women around the world with the necessary care they need. Senator Shaheen serves on the Appropriation’s Subcommittee on the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs and is also the only woman on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Senators Shaheen, Hassan Push For Resources To Address Water Contamination Near Military Bases

Senators push to clean up contaminated water in Portsmouth

(Washington, DC)U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined several of their Democratic colleagues in sending a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee urging funding for programs and safety efforts that address per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), chemicals that have contaminated drinking water sources in New Hampshire and across the nation.

“Residents of our states are concerned about exposure, and what this means for their health and safety,” the senators wrote. “We urge your support for programs that address this unregulated and emerging water contaminant.”

A by-product of firefighting foam used at military installations and civilian airports, PFAS have been detected in groundwater and drinking water wells near these entities. In New Hampshire, the city of Portsmouth closed the Haven well at the tradeport in May 2014 after the Air Force found levels of PFAS chemicals at 12.5 times higher than what was then the EPA’s provisional health advisory. While the health effects of these chemicals are still being determined, studies have linked PFAS exposure to developmental damage, certain cancers, and immune system dysfunction.

​In the letter, the senators urge the Committee to fully fund a study that Senator Shaheen successfully included in the Senate version of the FY18 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on the cumulative health effects and impact of PFAS exposure in water sources. The letter also encourages the Committee to direct the Department of Defense and military services to robustly budget for assessment, investigation, and remediation activities.

Finally, the letter requests investments to ​eliminate the current use of this generation of contaminants, which would reduce the cost of future remediation efforts, and to research firefighting alternatives that do not contain PFAS.

A copy of the letter can be found HERE and attached below.

358073165-Letter-to-Senate-Appropriations-Committee-Water-Contamination-Near-Military-Bases
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