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Shaheen, Hassan Call for Reversal of Proposed EPA Cuts That Would Devastate Americans’ Clean Air and Water

SENATORS: Trump’s pledge for clean air and water is “meaningless” when followed by proposal for drastic cuts that would undercut EPA’s core mission 

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined a group of 36 Senators in opposing President Trump’s proposal to inflict a more than 30 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) budget.

Expressing “extreme concern” over the cuts, the Senators wrote to appropriations leaders, “During the President’s February 28, 2017 address to Congress, he pledged to ‘promote clean air and water.’ Such a pledge is meaningless when the President follows it by proposing a 31 percent cut to the EPA’s budget and a 20 percent reduction in its staff. If enacted, this funding cut would effectively eliminate the EPA’s ability to execute its core mission to protect public health and ensure citizens have clean air, clean water, and are protected from hazardous waste and contaminants.” 

The Senators highlighted many areas of concern where the proposed cuts would significantly harm communities across America—from reducing clean air and clean water grants and cutting enforcement against polluters, to cutting funding for Superfund sites by 30 percent, to entirely eliminating efforts to combat climate change and clean up major regional bodies of water, like the Great Lakes and the Columbia River Basin. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has insisted that states should be the primary protectors of the environment. However, this proposed budget would drastically cut grants that are crucial for states to protect their clean water and clean air, monitor health impacts of pollution, and reclaim toxic-contaminated sites throughout the country.

“We urge you to oppose these drastic and dangerous cuts, and support continued funding for the EPA,” the Senators concluded.

The letter was signed by Environment and Public Works Committee Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-DE), and Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tom Udall (D-NM), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chris Coons (D-DE), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Al Franken (D-MN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Gary Peters (D-MI), Bob Casey (D-PA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ).

The full text of the letter is copied below.

Dear Chairman Cochran and Vice Chairman Leahy:

We write to express our extreme concern over the drastic cuts President Trump proposed in FY2018 funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). During the President’s February 28, 2017 address to Congress, he pledged to “promote clean air and water.” Such a pledge is meaningless when the President follows it by proposing a 31 percent cut to the EPA’s budget and a 20 percent reduction in its staff. If enacted, this funding cut would effectively eliminate the EPA’s ability to execute its core mission to protect public health and ensure citizens have clean air, clean water, and are protected from hazardous waste and contaminants.

As the Senate works to finalize FY2017 appropriations and develop legislation to fund the federal government in FY2018, we urge you to oppose these cuts.  The EPA must receive funding and staffing levels that ensure the agency can fulfill its mission to protect the environment, reduce pollution, and safeguard public health.     

Unfortunately, instead of maintaining environmental protections, President Trump’s FY2018 budget blueprint would simply eviscerate the EPA’s core functions and adversely impact state budgets that rely on EPA grants for environmental remediation. President Trump’s vision for the EPA includes:

  • reducing clean air and clean water grants programs and cutting enforcement against polluters by 23%,
  • instituting a 45% cut to core state grants programs which make up nearly 30% of state environmental agencies’ budgets and allow them to implement longstanding environmental laws,
  • eliminating the Energy Star program, which saved consumers over $34 billion in utility bills in 2015 alone, and over $430 billion since 1992,
  • cutting research funding by nearly 50%,
  • eliminating the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program, which allows the EPA to evaluate impacts to human health from chemical exposure,
  • cutting funding for Superfund sites by 30 percent, making it harder to clean up and reclaim contaminated and polluted sites across the country
  • eliminating climate change research and partnership programs, international climate change programs, and defunding the Clean Power Plan,
  • eliminating geographic programs accounts that provide important resources to clean up iconic water bodies that provide millions of Americans with drinking water including the Chesapeake Bay, the Great Lakes, Puget Sound, the Columbia River Basin, the Long Island Sound, and the San Francisco Bay,
  • cutting all funding for the U.S.-Mexico border program that support cross-border drinking water and sanitations improvements in the southwest,
  • cutting all funding for Alaska Native villages and rural communities that helps provide critical drinking water and sewer systems, and
  • eliminating the Targeted Airshed Grants program, which provides tools for local states, governments and tribes to reduce hazardous air pollution.

This is not the vision of the EPA that Americans support. We must ensure that vital public health and environment protections are maintained and funded. We urge you to oppose these drastic and dangerous cuts, and support continued funding for the EPA in the FY2017 and FY2018 appropriations process.

Sincerely,

Trump’s Budget Is A Disaster

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

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

The Hill reports:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NH Congressional Delegation Responds To New Report On GOP Healthcare Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shaheen Blasts Trumpcare As “Out of Touch” With Stories From Working People In NH

On Senate Floor, Shaheen Shares Stories of Granite Staters Who Rely on the Affordable Care Act, Calls Trumpcare
“Totally Out of Touch” With Lives of Working Americans
 

(Washington, DC) — U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) spoke on the Senate floor today to share the stories of Granite Staters who have been helped by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, and against President Trump and Republican leadership’s proposed repeal bill. Shaheen highlighted her conversations with Granite Staters across New Hampshire whose lives have been saved thanks to the ACA and Medicaid Expansion. “For ordinary people in New Hampshire and across America, repealing the Affordable Care Act isn’t about politics, it’s about life and death,” said Shaheen. “It’s about people being cut off from treatment for substance use disorders.  It’s about cancer patients being turned away from life-saving therapies.  It’s about children with serious preexisting conditions being denied health coverage.”

During her remarks, Shaheen said Republican leadership’s legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act “would have catastrophic consequences” for New Hampshire. “It is especially distressing that Trumpcare would roll back expansion of the Medicaid program, which has been an indispensable tool in our efforts to combat the opioid epidemic,” Shaheen said. That “could terminate treatment for hundreds of thousands of people across America who are recovering from substance use disorders.”

Shaheen went on to share stories of Granite Staters who are getting treatment for substance use disorders with help from the ACA. One letter that Shaheen read was from Nansie Feeny of Concord, NH, who wrote: “[My son] Benjamin went to Keene State College with the same hopes and dreams many have when building their American dream.   While there he tried heroin.  Addiction overcame him… It was due to Obamacare that we were able to get him insured so that he could get the proper help he needed and [into] a suboxone program that assisted him with staying ‘clean.’  In April it will be a year for Ben in his recovery. Without Obamacare this would not have been possible.”

Shaheen urged her Senate colleagues to “come together to repair the flaws in this landmark law and ensure that it works even better for all Americans.”

During her remarks, Shaheen also voiced her concerns about Seema Verma, President Trump’s nominee to serve as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and said that she will vote against her confirmation. “Ms. Verma made it clear that [prenatal care and maternity coverage] should be strictly optional – and women should pay extra for it if they want it,” said Shaheen. “The American people do not want drastic cuts to Medicaid – cuts that will threaten coverage for children, seniors, people with disabilities, and patients receiving treatment for substance use disorders.”

 

New Hampshire Congressional Delegation Strongly Opposes GOP Repeal Of ACA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On International Women’s Day, Shaheen & Collins Announce Bipartisan Resolution Recognizing Achievements of Women Around the World

(Washington D.C.) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME), leading a bipartisan coalition of Senators, announced their resolution to recognize today, March 8, 2017, as International Women’s Day and commemorate the achievements of women around the world. The International Women’s Day resolution celebrates the economic, political and social achievements of women while recognizing the obstacles women continue to face in the struggle for equal rights and opportunities. The resolution is co-sponsored by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chris Coons (D-DE), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Ed Markey (D-MA) Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Patty Murray (D-WA).

“International Women’s Day is an opportunity to take stock of the incredible achievements of women around the world and the work that still needs to be done,” said Senator Shaheen. “Women and girls make up 51 percent of the population, yet they are consistently underrepresented in government, economically disenfranchised, and faced with tremendous social barriers. I will continue to advocate for foreign policies that protect women and girls’ rights and fight efforts by the Trump Administration to roll back progress we have made. Mobilizing the previously untapped talents of millions of women and girls has the power to transform the global economy, our national security and, ultimately, the world.”

“Women have blazed trails and broken barriers in every field of endeavor,” said Senator Collins.  “International Women’s Day celebrates the countless important social, economic, cultural, and political contributions that women are making in the United States and around the world.  This resolution recognizes those achievements and reaffirms our enduring commitment to work toward a world that guarantees basic human rights and empowers women to be the leaders of tomorrow.” 

“In January, millions of women, men and children turned out for marches in Washington, New York, London, Nairobi, Tokyo and dozens of other cities…  And the world heard our message loudly and clearly:  We will not allow our reproductive rights and other human rights to be taken away.  We will not allow women to be targeted for discrimination.  We will not be taken backward,” Shaheen said in her speech on the floor of the Senate. 

In support of the goals of International Women’s Day, the resolution affirms the advancement of women as a foreign policy priority for the United States. It also recognizes that women’s realization of their full potential through education and economic empowerment is critical to a nation’s ability to achieve strong and lasting economic growth, as well as political and social stability. Specifically, the bipartisan resolution highlights the underrepresentation of women in most aspects of public life, the denial of basic human rights for women in many countries, and the threat of violence and abuse that too many women around the world continue to face. 

The full text of the resolution is available here. 

Senators Shaheen and Collins have led the International Women’s Day resolution in the Senate since 2011. Both are the lead sponsors of the Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights (HER) Act, legislation that would permanently repeal the harmful Mexico City Policy.

Shaheen, Hassan And Other Senators Question CMS Nominee On Protecting Maternity Care

Shaheen, Hassan Express Concerns Over Trump’s Nominee to Lead Centers for Medicare and Medicaid and Her Commitment to Protect Maternity Care

In a letter to CMS Administrator Nominee Seema Verma, the Senators questioned whether Verma would enforce legal protections for women’s health

(Washington, DC) — U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined 19 senators on a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Nominee Seema Verma expressing concern about her commitment to protecting women’s health care given her recent comments concerning maternity care during her confirmation hearing. The Senate Finance Committee will vote on Verma’s confirmation today. 

“During your confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, you were asked if women should get access to prenatal care and maternity coverage, as afforded under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or whether insurance companies should get to choose whether to cover this for women,” the Senators said. “Your response indicated that coverage of prenatal and maternity care should be optional – in direct contrast to the law and the care that women and families receive today.”

“Not only was your response inadequate, it reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of an individual’s ability to make health care decisions when no options are made available to them, as was the case before the ACA,” the Senators went on to say.  “If no plan offers maternity coverage, and if coverage is extraordinarily costly or requires long waiting periods, what kind of choice does that present to women?”

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Patty Murray (D-WA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tom Carper (D-DE), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Gary Peters (D-MI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Bob Casey (D-PA) also signed the letter.  

The full text of the letter is available below. 

March 1, 2017

Mrs. Seema Verma
CMS Administrator Nominee

ATTN: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Legislation
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201

 

Dear Mrs. Verma:

We write to express our deep concern about your commitment to protect quality, affordable health care for women and to address disparities in health care quality and access. In addition to other concerns, your recent comments concerning maternity care during your confirmation hearing raise real questions about whether you would enforce current legal protections for women’s health. During your confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, you were asked if women should get access to prenatal care and maternity coverage, as afforded under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or whether insurance companies should get to choose whether to cover this for women. Your response indicated that coverage of prenatal and maternity care should be optional – in direct contrast to the law and the care that women and families receive today. 

Not only was your response inadequate, it reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of an individual’s ability to make health care decisions when no options are made available to them, as was the case before the ACA. If no plan offers maternity coverage, and if coverage is extraordinarily costly or requires long waiting periods, what kind of choice does that present to women?

If confirmed as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), you would be responsible for overseeing programs that serve over 100 million Americans, including women and families, who access health care services through Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP and the Marketplace. When further pressed at your confirmation hearing whether women should pay more for health insurance, you mentioned that you “think that women have to make the decisions that work best for them and their family.” We agree. However, we know that women and their families are better able to make such decisions when they have access to maternity care coverage, which is why we fought hard to make that care accessible for millions of women and families through the ACA. 

If confirmed as Administrator, it would be your job to enforce and implement the law. For this reason, we think it’s important you do some research and increase your awareness about how life was for women seeking health care before the ACA became the law. Prior to the ACA, women who purchased their own insurance were unlikely to find coverage that included maternity care. According to the National Women’s Law Center, in 2013, just 12% of individual market plans offered maternity benefits. If maternity coverage was offered, it was often as an expensive rider with a waiting period, limiting the options of women to afford pregnancy care and plan families.

Even with maternity coverage excluded, before the ACA, 92% of plans charged women more than their male counterparts for coverage, a practice known as “gender rating.” Insurers often treated pregnancy as a pre-existing condition, allowing them to raise premiums for, or deny coverage to, expectant parents. According to a 2013 report by Truven, the average total price charged for pregnancy and newborn care was about $30,000 for a vaginal delivery and $50,000 for a C-section. 

Today, maternity care is a federally mandated essential health benefit that must be included in all individual and small group plans, as prescribed under statute. Insurers can no longer charge women higher premiums simply because of their gender, and every plan, inside and outside of the exchanges, must offer maternity care. These are huge strides towards ensuring that women and their families, and not their insurers, are able to make important decisions about their reproductive health and family planning.

Going back to the time when insurers were in control, and maternity care was an optional benefit, will lead to worse health outcomes for women. We urge you to commit to enforcing current law requiring maternity care to be covered by all insurance plans for all women, and commit to protecting the benefit if confirmed. Our hope is that you will stand with us in ensuring that women have full access to maternity care.

NH Congressional Representatives Speak Out After Trump’s Address

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

Full Text of the speech here

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

Senator Jeanne Shaheen:

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

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

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

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

Senator Maggie Hassan: 

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

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

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

Congresswoman Annie Kuster:

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

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

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shaheen To Bring Planned Parenthood Of Northern New England To Trump’s Speech To Congress

Shaheen Invites Planned Parenthood of Northern NE’s Jennifer Frizzell to President Trump’s Joint Session of Congress

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) has invited Jennifer Frizzell of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England to attend President Donald Trump’s joint session of Congress as her special guest tomorrow, February 28th in Washington D.C. As Shaheen’s honored guest, Frizzell will watch President Trump’s address from the House Chamber. In his address, President Trump is expected to outline his policy priorities, which include repealing the Affordable Care Act and defunding Planned Parenthood.

“Thousands of Granite State women and families depend on Planned Parenthood for vital healthcare services and, through her work with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, Jennifer Frizzell knows exactly what is at stake for women in in New Hampshire if President Trump and Republican leadership in Congress get their way,” said Senator Shaheen. “Defunding Planned Parenthood would leave thousands of women and families in New Hampshire without access to vital preventative care services that they need in order to live healthy lives, care for their families, and lead in the workforce. I am honored to have Jennifer Frizzell as my distinguished guest at tomorrow’s address to represent the thousands of Granite State women and families served by Planned Parenthood. I will continue to fight the dangerous, politically-motivated attacks in Congress that would strip women of their access to health care.”

Planned Parenthood in New Hampshire serves nearly 13,000 patients. Ninety-four percent of services provided at NH Planned Parenthood health centers are prevention-related, including breast exams, cancer screenings, birth control services, and vaccines. 

Senator Shaheen has been a strong supporter of Planned Parenthood throughout her career in the Senate, as New Hampshire’s Governor and as a state senator. 

Senators Shaheen And Hassan Take To The Senate Floor To Oppose EPA Nominee Scott Pruitt

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) spoke on the Senate floor today in opposition of Scott Pruitt, President Trump’s nominee to serve as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Shaheen voiced her concerns about Pruitt’s record as Attorney General of Oklahoma, including his many lawsuits in favor of the oil and gas companies, and his outspoken position denying climate change, which puts him at odds with the mission of the EPA. “Mr. Pruitt has been nominated not to lead the EPA forward, but to prevent it from carrying out its mission,” said Shaheen. “Make no mistake, Mr. Pruitt and his extreme agenda are a threat to the environment, to the planet, and to public health.”

Shaheen spoke of climate change impacts in New Hampshire, where warmer temperatures are affecting tourism and outdoor recreation as well as maple syrup production and the moose population. “People in my State of New Hampshire have no doubt about the reality of climate change… we see it and experience it every day.” Shaheen also cited the significant progress New Hampshire has made reducing its power-sector carbon pollution through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, putting the state on track to meet the Clean Power Plan’s carbon-reduction goals 10 years early. “Across New England, we are demonstrating that smart energy choices can benefit the environment and strengthen job-creation and the economy overall,” Shaheen said. 

Shaheen went on to read letters that her office received from Granite Staters, both Democrats and Republicans, who “not only oppose Mr. Pruitt’s nomination, they genuinely fear the consequences of putting him in charge of the EPA.” Christopher Morgan of Amherst, NH wrote: “This is my first message I have ever sent to my senator in my 32 years as a voting American. . . . As a registered Republican . . . I am vehemently opposed to Mr. Pruitt leading the EPA. He has consistently shown he does not believe in the threat posed by climate change. Climate change affects every citizen in this country and has had a detrimental effect on the NH climate specifically.”

“Mr. Pruitt’s nomination is not about ‘shaking things up in Washington,’” said Shaheen. “It is about turning over control of the EPA to the fossil fuel industry – and turning back the clock on a half century of bipartisan efforts – in Democratic and Republican administrations alike – to protect clean air and clean water, and to pass on to our children a livable environment and habitable Earth.”

Shaheen urged her Senate colleagues to oppose Pruitt’s confirmation and “reject this effort to un-do nearly five decades of bipartisan efforts to protect our environment and planet.”

Watch Shaheen’s Video

Senator Maggie Hassan also delivered remarks on the Senate floor, opposing the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to serve as Administrator of the Environmental Protecting Agency.

“It is clear from Mr. Pruitt’s history of opposition to the agency he will be tasked to lead, his record of working to weaken critical environmental protections that our citizens need to thrive, and his unwillingness to fight climate change that he is unfit to serve in this position,” Senator Hassan said on the Senate floor today. 

In her remarks, Senator Hassan highlighted the work done in New Hampshire to protect the state’s beautiful natural resources, environment, and citizens. The Senator also noted how Mr. Pruitt has been a consistent opponent of the EPA, taking legal action against the agency over 20 times and fighting against the EPA’s efforts to combat climate change and protect our land, air, and water. 

“The foundation of a future where all Americans have an opportunity to thrive starts with a healthy environment and healthy families. And the EPA serves an important role in protecting the health of our people. We must do better than having an administrator who has fought so tirelessly to undermine the work this agency does,” said Senator Hassan. 

Additionally, Senator Hassan explained that it is unacceptable that Mr. Pruitt is a climate change skeptic, putting him at odds with the world’s leading climate scientists.

“Mr. Pruitt, however, has been a consistent skeptic on the role of climate change has on our environment. Mr. Pruitt has stated that we do not know the extent of human impact on climate change, and has called it a natural occurrence… The EPA is a science-based organization, and it is unacceptable for the EPA Administrator to be at odds with the well-established views of leading scientists,” the Senator said.

Senator Hassan concluded her remarks by noting the critical role a cleaner environment plays in New Hampshire’s economy and that we should be building on the EPA’s efforts on climate change and protecting public health, not rolling them back. 

“We know that a cleaner environment plays a key role in the economy of New Hampshire and our entire nation. And we should be building on the critical efforts the EPA has taken to combat change and protect public health – not rolling them back.  Mr. Pruitt’s hostility to the basic functions of the Environmental Protection Agency, and his work to undermine protections for our air, land, and water make clear that he should not serve in this role,” added Senator Hassan.

Watch Senator Hassan’s Video 

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