• Advertisement

Air Force Agrees to Provide City of Portsmouth $1.3 Million to Continue Ongoing Pease Clean-Up Effort

 PORTSMOUTH, NH — Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Senator Maggie Hassan, and Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) today announced that the U.S. Air Force has agreed to pay the City of Portsmouth $1.3 million to complete next steps in the ongoing Pease clean-up effort.

“Today’s announcement demonstrates a real and ongoing commitment from the Air Force to rid the Pease wells of dangerous water contaminants,” said Senator Shaheen. “Granite State families who are worried about their children getting sick from drinking contaminated water deserve peace of mind, and the additional funding for this carbon filtration system is an important step forward. I’ll continue to work to improve the safety of drinking water in New Hampshire communities.” 

“The announcement of this funding from the Air Force to address water contamination at Haven, Harrison, and Smith Wells  is a step in the right direction, but there is more work to do to ensure that all Granite Staters and their families have access to clean, safe drinking water,” Senator Hassan said. “Communities exposed to emerging contaminants in their water understandably have many concerns about their health, and I will continue working with the Congressional Delegation and federal partners to ensure that those concerns are urgently addressed.”

“Today’s investment by the Air Force is a good next step toward addressing unacceptable PFC contamination in our drinking water,” said Congresswoman Shea-Porter. “I will continue to insist that the Air Force take financial responsibility for both cleaning up our water and for studying the health impacts of the level of PFC exposure that Pease-area residents have already experienced.”

Today’s Environmental Services Cooperative Agreement for Engineering Design Services will require the Air Force to provide the City of Portsmouth with funding to complete design plans for the carbon filtration system that will remove perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) in water from the Haven, Harrison and Smith Wells, which are treated at the former Pease Air Force Base water treatment facility now operated by the City. This is the third agreement between the Air Force and the City for expenses related to mitigating PFC levels, which have been measured at levels exceeding the EPA’s lifetime health advisory in local drinking water. The first two agreements provided funding for preliminary design services and for a pilot project and demonstration of PFC removal. 

To date, the financial commitment of the Air Force for Pease mitigation activities totals $25 million. The Air Force’s projected $30 million investment in 2017 includes $13 million to retrofit the water treatment facility.

Last month, Shea-Porter’s amendments directing the Department of Defense to fund a CDC health impact study of exposure to PFCs in groundwater around military installations, as well as an amendment she cosponsored to fund ongoing mitigation efforts, passed the House with unanimous support as part of its annual Defense Appropriations bill. 

In April 2017, Senator Shaheen introduced the Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act, bipartisan legislation, which Senator Hassan cosponsored, that would help strengthen Federal and state efforts to improve drinking water systems. The Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act creates a national strategy to coordinate the Federal response to emerging contaminants and provides state assistance in responding to related public health challenges. Shaheen also successfully included a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that directs the Department of Defense to fund a nationwide health study on the implications of perflourinated chemicals in drinking water. Both Senators and the Congresswoman continue to work to ensure that the Air Force continues to engage with the Pease community and responds to their concerns.

VA Secretary Meets With NH Congressional Delegation At Manchester VA Facility

Yesterday, U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, joined New Hampshire’s Congressional delegation, Governor Chris Sununu, and VA leaders at the Manchester VA Medical Center to tour the facility and hold a town hall with employees. The delegation called for the visit following a Boston Globe Spotlight report that highlighed whistleblowers’ serious concerns about care provided by the facility.

In their meeting with Secretary Shulkin, the delegation stressed the importance of an independent medical review process, fixes to the Veterans Choice program, and improvements for services for women veterans at the facility. The Senator also reiterated her support for a full-service VA hospital in New Hampshire.

The Union Leader is reporting that the Sec Shulkin has promised nearly $30 million to fix the issues at the Manchester, NH facility.

The new spending will include a $5 million coordination of care center, $7 million to fix damage caused by recent flooding and another $18 million in construction projects on the campus.

Shulkin said the task force finding in a report due out by Jan. 1 may not be for a full-service hospital but rather giving veterans access to all services by networking with community hospitals.

“While many veterans receive quality care from the Manchester VA, there’s much work to be done to ensure accountability for substandard services,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “I applaud the courageous whistleblowers who bravely spoke out on behalf of patients at the Manchester VA and am glad they had the opportunity to speak directly with Secretary Shulkin. It’s so important that the VA rebuild trust with the veteran community by consistently delivering the quality care they deserve in a timely fashion. Secretary Shulkin’s presence today, and his attentiveness to care delivery issues at the Manchester VA, gives me hope that the VA will address any shortfalls at this facility. New funding for a coordinated care center is a very positive step in the right direction. And I’m very pleased that funding to repair water damage is being quickly provided. I also appreciate Secretary Shulkin’s commitment to establish a task force that will examine providing New Hampshire’s veterans with the full range of care services. All of New Hampshire’s veterans deserve high quality, convenient, accessible health care and I will continue to work with Secretary Shulkin, the VA and the delegation until we achieve that goal. ”

I appreciate VA Secretary Shulkin’s visit to Manchester and the commitments that he made, but this must just be the first step of many to address the reports of unacceptable quality of care and administrative indifference at the Manchester VA Medical Center,” said Senator Maggie Hassan. “As I told Secretary Shulkin, we need a thorough and independent review process, which includes interviews with clinicians and patients, in order to address these claims and to prevent future failures in care for our veterans. I am going to continue to work with Secretary Shulkin and the VA, Governor Sununu, and our congressional delegation to ensure that all of our veterans receive the care that they need and have earned.”

“Today, Secretary Shulkin made a firm commitment to implementing needed reforms and investments at our Manchester VA with the urgency New Hampshire veterans expect and deserve,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. “The current situation is clearly unacceptable, and I am insisting that the VA do everything in its power to provide New Hampshire veterans with timely, high-quality care and also to fully cooperate with the concurrent investigations so we can get to the root of these problems and make sure they never happen again.”

During her meeting with Secretary Shulkin, Shea-Porter requested several specific commitments, including sufficient funding to expedite community provider appointment scheduling and to establish a new Office of Community Care at Manchester as well as a firm timeline for filling each position required to sustain an effective care coordination model. Following the meeting, Secretary Shulkin announced an investment of over $30 million in the Manchester VAMC, including $12 million in new funding. Shea-Porter also reiterated her strong support for a full-service VA hospital in New Hampshire. In January, Shea-Porter reintroduced the Veterans Health Equity Act, a bill that would remedy New Hampshire’s status as the only state in the nation without a full-service VA hospital or equivalent access. The bill has been cosponsored by every member of the New Hampshire delegation, Republican and Democratic, since Shea-Porter first introduced it in 2008.

“I appreciate Secretary Shulkin coming to New Hampshire to address the very serious allegations regarding quality care at the Manchester VAMC and his announcement of a thorough new investigation into the charges brought by the whistleblowers,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “I’m encouraged that Secretary Shulkin is committing $30 million in funding for capital projects and quality improvements, including a new office of care coordination. It’s imperative that we get all the answers to what happened at Manchester and how we can improve access to care for our veterans moving forward. Next month, I’ll be convening a field hearing of the House VA Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations in New Hampshire so that the VA Committee can hear directly from the whistleblowers about their experience at the Manchester VAMC and their thoughts on how we can improve access to quality care for our veterans.”

This week, Kuster, the lead Democrat on the House VA Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, announced that she will convene a field hearing on September 18th of the Subcommittee in New Hampshire to examine the allegations.

According to the Union Leader, management shakeups have already begun and new leadership will be appointed to run the facility going forward.

(Read the entire Union Leader article)

Senators Urge Sec. Mattis Not To Enact Trump’s Discriminatory Anti-Transgender Policy

Shaheen, Hassan Join Bipartisan Letter Urging Secretary Mattis Not to Implement Transgender Ban

Last week, President Trump tweeted that transgender individuals could no longer serve in the US Armed Forces.

“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

If enacted this new policy against transgender individuals would reverse policies issued by Sec of Defense,, Ash Carter in 2015 that stated:

“No Service member shall be involuntarily separated or denied reenlistment or continuation of active or reserve service on the basis of their gender identity, without the personal approval of the Under Secretary of Defense for personnel and Readiness.”

However since Trump’s policy announcement on twitter, the White House and the Department of Defense have not issued any official policy changes, leaving the thousands of transgender Service members hanging in the balance.  Since the official policy announcement in 2015, there have been zero reported issues by any branch of the military.

Now, everyone is waiting to see what Secretary of Defense James Mattis will do next.

Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan joined a bipartisan letter signed by 43 additional Senators to Secretary Mattis urging him to advise the President against implementing the announcement he made via Twitter Wednesday that transgender Americans can no longer serve in the military.

“We strongly oppose this policy change, and urge you to advise the President against it,” the Senators wrote in the letter. “This announcement contradicts existing Defense Department policies, undermines our military readiness, and puts our transgender service members as well as their commanders in an impossible situation.”

“We appreciate General Dunford’s message that no policy changes should be made until implementation guidelines have been issued. We further write to request that, at a minimum, you do not separate any service member due to the person’s gender identity until you have completed the assessment that you announced on June 30, have reported back to Congress about any challenges that you foresee in the accession and retention of transgender troops, and determined the Department is unable to mitigate these challenges.”

Veterans like Jason Lindsay fear that this policy shift is a “colossal step backwards” in a statement issued Wednesday.

“As an Iraq war veteran and member of the LGBTQ community who was personally impacted by ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ I am appalled at Donald Trump’s announcement this morning banning transgender people from serving in the military,” said Jason Lindsay, Executive Director of Pride Fund to End Gun Violence. “This is blatant discrimination, full-stop, and a colossal step backwards for our country.”

“Trump vowed to protect the LGBTQ community during his campaign, but his methodical dismantling of LGBTQ protections and rights shows his true intentions. This morning’s announcement is a direct attack on the transgender community,” said Lindsay.

The full text of the Senators’ joint letter is included here and below.

Letter to Mattis on transgender troops

Republicans Fail (Again) To Repeal And Replace: NH Senators Respond

Photo by Victoria Pickering on Flickr.

Democrats stood united against the GOP ‘repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act” with the help of three Republican Senators, Susan Collins, John McCain, and Lisa Murkowski they defeated yet another bill that would have stripped healthcare from 15 million Americans.

Last night’s version of the GOP plan to reform healthcare labeled the “Skinny Repeal” still gave massive tax cuts to the wealthy, would increase the cost of healthcare on working families, and make drastic cuts to Medicaid and Medicare.

“Republicans released the skinny bill just three hours before voting began. It would have retroactively repealed the Obamacare penalty on individuals who do not purchase health insurance, repealed for eight years a penalty on certain employers who do not provide employees with insurance and repealed a medical device tax until 2020. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that if it became law, 15 million fewer Americans would be insured in 2018 than under existing law,” wrote the Associated Press.

Many are praising Senator McCain for opposing this bill, however the real heroes are Sen Collins and Sen Murkowski who have been vocal opponents of the GOP repeal and replacement plans.  These two women have withstood attacks from their colleagues on the right and still found the strength to oppose these cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and specifically women’s health.

“I thank Senators Lisa Murkowski, John McCain, and Susan Collins for putting the health and well-being of the American people before partisan politics,” said Senator Maggie Hassan.  “I am also incredibly grateful for the brave Granite Staters and Americans who have laid themselves bare and shared their stories over the past months. Without you, this outcome would not have been possible. Now, it is time for Republicans and Democrats to come together and get to work on improving and building upon the Affordable Care Act in order to bring down health care costs for hard-working people.”

“Tonight, I’m very relieved that, for the time being, healthcare repeal has been set aside,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “Republican leadership, through a reckless and partisan process, came dangerously close to undermining healthcare for millions of Americans and tens of thousands of Granite Staters. The American people have made their voices heard and deserve credit for defeating this dangerous legislation. It’s time for Republican leadership to finally abandon their attempts to repeal healthcare and begin working across the aisle to improve the Affordable Care Act. Healthcare is a life and death issue and it’s time for Democrats and Republicans to come together and do the will of the American people.”

“Last night was a win for the American people who are tired of partisan politics getting in the way of real solutions,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “Everyone who took the time to call their members of Congress over the past several months has played an important role in defeating this misguided effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and I want to thank you all. I have also heard from Granite Staters who have faced challenges accessing healthcare through the ACA. I appreciate those concerns, and I recognize the ACA is far from perfect. I urge my Republican colleagues to abandon their focus on repealing the ACA and instead come to the table in good faith to improve our healthcare system so that everyone is able to access quality, affordable health insurance. I’ve outlined what I hope can be the basis for bipartisan conversations about commonsense solutions to fix problems within the ACA and look forward to working with my Republican colleagues on this critical issue.”

Last week, Kuster wrote an op-ed with Congressman Peter Welch (VT-At Large) in the Valley News on their proposal to improve upon the successes of the Affordable Care Act, like reducing the uninsured rate and improving the quality of health insurance, while fixing the remaining issues in our nation’s healthcare system. Kuster and Welch also highlighted how repealing the ACA and passing the Republican healthcare bill would harm their constituents.

After the first failed attempt to repeal the ACA, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter released the following statement:

“Senate Republicans took a vote to rip healthcare from millions of Americans without even knowing themselves what’s in Mitch McConnell’s latest repeal plan. In doing so, they not only voted to take health coverage and financial peace of mind from their own constituents — they also betrayed the fundamental values of transparency and openness that underpin our democratic system. I share the anger and frustration of the many New Hampshire families and health care providers whose voices were ignored by the Senate today. This is not how our government is supposed to work.”

The AFL-CIO Executive Council also spoke out against these attacks on Medicare and Medicaid and called for real reforms that help working people.

“Quality health care should be a basic right in the United States. It should not be a commodity that can be denied because you have too little income, do not have the right job or any job, or have a pre-existing medical condition. Republican leaders in Congress, however, are pursuing an agenda that attacks this principle and undermines everyone’s health care, whether you are covered through a job, an individual plan, Medicaid or Medicare. Each of their attempts, so far, to pass legislation that repeals major parts of the Affordable Care Act has failed, however, largely because tens of millions of Americans have spoken out against their proposals, and because some Republican lawmakers have stood up for working people against these health care cuts despite enormous pressure from within their party.”

The NH Democratic Party thanked Senators Shaheen and Hassan and highlighted Governor Sununu’s silence on the GOP healthcare reforms.

“Endless thanks are due to Senator Shaheen and Senator Hassan for standing up on behalf of Granite Staters in our nation’s capital. Last night, 51 Senator voted to do the right thing by rejecting a health care bill that would have kicked millions of Americans off insurance and hiked premiums by 20% just next year. New Hampshire voters delivered two of those key Senate votes by electing Democrats in competitive races in 2014 and 2016. This should underscore the importance of the Democratic energy that continues to grow in New Hampshire and across the country,” said NHDP Chairman Ray Buckley.

“Meanwhile, Governor Sununu refused to use his platform to stand up for the 73% of Granite Staters who don’t support Trumpcare. Instead, he said nothing. He had the opportunity to join five other Republican governors opposing this devastating bill. Instead, he did nothing. It couldn’t be clearer than it is today: Governor Sununu serves President Trump, Washington Republicans, and corporate special interests, not New Hampshire.”

It is clear that the Republicans are not interested in helping to ensure that more Americans have access to healthcare or god forbid have healthcare provided to them, they are only interested in tax breaks for the wealthy and the corporations who are bankrupting working people.

On Senate Floor, Shaheen Speaks Out Against Republican Leadership’s Healthcare Repeal Efforts

(Washington DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) spoke on the Senate floor in opposition to the Senate Republican leadership’s healthcare repeal legislation. Shaheen stressed that the Republican leadership’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act would take health insurance from thousands of Granite Staters, is opposed by an overwhelming majority of stakeholder groups, and has been done without any public input from the American people. “Make no mistake, every bill proposed by the Republican leadership has been designed as a bullet to the heart of the Affordable Care Act. Republican proposals will collapse the individual marketplaces, make it impossible to provide affordable coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, and take health coverage away from up to 32 million Americans, including the most vulnerable.”

Shaheen also highlighted Senator John McCain’s recent floor remarks calling for bipartisanship saying, “We need to work together to build on the strengths of the Affordable Care Act, which has dramatically reduced the number of uninsured Americans and has given us valuable tools for fighting the opioid epidemic, which is ravishing so many communities in America. This is the best way forward for both the Senate and our country.”

Shaheen urged her Senate colleagues to listen “to the great majority of our constituents… Instead of legislation to take healthcare away from people, it’s time for an inclusive, bipartisan approach to provide quality, affordable healthcare for every American.”

Senators Share Real Life Stories Of Granite Staters Highlighted In US Senate Fight Against Trumpcare

WASHINGTON – Last night, Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan went to the Senate floor together to highlight a few of the stories they heard at an emergency Trumpcare field hearing they held last Friday in Concord. The Senators also emphasized that even though Republican leadership has delayed a vote on Trumpcare this week, the fundamentals of what is wrong with Trumpcare will not change.

“The Senate bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act and radically cut Medicaid is a clear and present danger to the State of New Hampshire and to every other State,” said Senator Shaheen. “I am grateful to the Granite Staters who attended our field hearing on Friday, and I was particularly struck by the many parents who expressed their fears over what ACA repeal would mean for their children’s healthcare. In other States, too, large numbers of people are attending town hall meetings to express overwhelming opposition to the Republican leaders’ bill.  We need to listen. We need to stop this headlong rush to pass a cruel and heartless bill.”

During her remarks on the Senate floor, Shaheen highlighted the stories of Paula Garvey from Amherst who is worried that insurance companies would impose lifetime limits on benefits for her 19-year-old daughter Rosie, who has cystic fibrosis; Sarah Sadowski from Concord whose daughter has cerebral palsy; and Melissa Fernald from Wolfeboro whose patients rely on Medicaid expansion for their health insurance.

“Trumpcare would be a disaster for people in New Hampshire,” said Senator Hassan. “Granite Staters know this and they have been standing up and speaking out against this dangerous bill. As Senator Shaheen discussed, we held an emergency hearing last week in Concord to hear from our constituents about how Trumpcare would impact them. We held this emergency hearing at 2 p.m., on a Friday afternoon in the summer, with just a day’s notice – yet hundreds of people showed up. […] They told us what their lives were like, and why Trumpcare would be devastating to them and their families. I’d like to share some of those stories here today.”

On the Senate floor, Senator Hassan highlighted the stories of Ariel, a mother from Rochester who has struggled with substance misuse and is now in recovery because of services she received through Medicaid; Jeff, who has muscular dystrophy and discussed how Medicaid covers critical services for people with disabilities that private insurance doesn’t cover; and Enna, who is self-employed and purchases health insurance through New Hampshire’s Marketplace, providing affordable care for her and her family that she couldn’t get before the Affordable Care Act.

Democratic Senators Demand Answers To Policy Changes To Civil Rights Protections In The Dept of Education

Shaheen, Hassan Join Senate Democrats to Call Out Secretary DeVos for Harmful Actions on Civil Rights Protections, Enforcement 

Betsy DeVos
Image by Gage Skidmore Feb 2017

Senators highlight numerous steps taken by Secretary DeVos to roll back civil rights enforcement and protections for students 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined 33 Senators today in sending a letter to Secretary DeVos citing major concerns with steps the U.S. Department of Education has taken under her leadership to diminish civil rights enforcement for students across the country. The Senators highlight a number of alarming steps Secretary DeVos has taken, including hosting events with anti-LGBTQ hate groups, proposing to slash the budget of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), and scaling back OCR’s civil rights enforcements, among others.

Your testimony in front of Congress, your continued association with groups with records of supporting discrimination, and two memos written by the Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, have reemphasized longstanding concerns about your dedication to the idea that all students, no matter their race, religion, disability, country of origin, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity, have a right to receive an education free from discrimination,” wrote the Senators.

In the letter the Senators continued to press DeVos on her failure to protect transgender students.

“We are also extremely disappointed in the Department’s failure to take actions to protect transgender students.  More than a third of transgender students report being the subject of harassment or bullying in school,[5] sixty percent of transgender youth report being forced to use bathrooms inconsistent with their gender identity,[6] and half of transgender children have seriously contemplated suicide.[7] Despite these shocking statistics, on February 22, 2017, the Department withdrew joint guidance on transgender students’ rights under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”).

On March 10, six Senators wrote you expressing outrage at that decision and asking how you intend to enforce civil rights protections for transgender students. While you have not yet answered that letter, recent steps by the Department suggest you will not act to protect transgender students. In fact, the Department has already abandoned its defense of some students who have experienced discrimination or harassment by dismissing or closing at least two cases involving transgender students and withdrawing previous findings of discrimination against the school districts.[8] ” 

The Senators are also demanding answers to open cases and policy changes within the Department of Education.

In order to fully understand the impact of recent policy and civil rights investigatory and enforcement changes at the Department and the Office of Civil Rights, please provide the following information and documents by July 11, 2017:

  • A list of all open OCR cases involving a transgender student as of January 30, 2017, disaggregated by the nature of the complaint, and the current status of each of these cases.
  • A list of all open OCR cases involving sexual assault or sexual harassment as of January 30, 2017 and the current status of those cases.
  • A list of all cases OCR has closed or dismissed between January 1, 2017, and today, and the specific reason each case was closed.
  • A complete, un-redacted copy of the manual used by investigators.
  • An explanation of how the Department intends to ensure that OCR investigators are making determinations about transgender students’ rights based on binding legal precedent in their region. 
  • An answer as to whether the Department will continue to post all resolution agreements online.
  • Any and all memoranda, analyses, or other communications discussing the rationale for, and impact of, policy changes affecting civil rights enforcement by the Department.
  • Any and all memoranda, analyses, or other communications discussing the rationale for, and impact of, proposed budget cuts in OCR.
  • A list of all metrics that will be used by the Department to assess effectiveness of civil rights enforcement.

There is no more serious responsibility of the Department than to ensure consistent, vigorous enforcement of civil rights laws and protections for all students.”

Due to the disturbing actions of the U.S. Department of Education and other agencies, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has opened a multi-agency investigation into whether the Trump Administration’s proposed budgets, staffing cuts, and policy priorities have increased the risk of discrimination.

The full letter is attached below.

062717 - Betsy DeVos ED Office of Civil Rights (OCR)

GOP Healthcare Plan Looks To Strip Low Cost, Preventative Care Away From 13 Million Women

Image by Gage Skidmore FLIKR

As President Trump says, “Healthcare is complicated.” The fact is that creating a national healthcare program takes careful consideration as every part of the legislation effects millions of Americans.

For weeks now the mostly white men of the US Senate have been crafting their own version of the “repeal and replacement” for the Affordable Care Act. Until earlier this week we had no idea what these men were going to propose.  The “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017” is already being deemed a disaster and outright mean.

For women, specifically low income women and women of color, this new bill is a train wreck as it will strip away healthcare providers as well as preventative care options.

Republicans in the Senate are using the proposed “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017” to push their ideological, partisan agenda to destroy Planned Parenthood.  The GOP hatred of Planned Parenthood stems from the fact that Planned Parenthood provides abortion services, even though abortions are not paid in any part through taxpayer funds, and is only 3% of what Planned Parenthood does every day.

The new “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017” continues this attack on Planned Parenthood by attempting to “defund” Planned Parenthood. This Republican talking point has become a staple for many Congressional Republicans even though they do not seem to grasp exactly what Planned Parenthood actually does.

Congress wants to “defund” Planned Parenthood by refusing to fund them with money from the federal budget, when in fact Planned Parenthood is not a budgetary item that can be removed.  Planned Parenthood is a medical service provider, like any other doctor’s office or hospital, and receives an insurance reimbursement through Medicaid.

Over 2.4 million women a year visit Planned Parenthood for their preventative health care services at little to no cost to the patient.  Nearly 1 in 5 women have utilized the services provided by Planned Parenthood. This is 97% of what Planned Parenthood does: annual exams, birth control, cancer screenings, and disease testing and treatment.  Once again, in case it was not clear before, Medicaid cannot reimburse patients for abortion services except in the cases of rape, incest, or the life of the mother is in danger.

“This bill would be a disaster for women. It prevents patients who rely on Medicaid from accessing care from their established and trusted provider including annual exams, birth control, cancer screenings, and STI testing and treatment,” said Kayla Montgomery, Director of Advocacy and Organizing for Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund. “It reduces access to no-cost preventive services, including birth control. In addition to “defunding” Planned Parenthood and slashing Medicaid; the Senate bill guts Essential Health Benefit protections, including maternity coverage and prescription drugs.  This bill would disproportionately impact women who already face unfair barriers to care, including low-income women and women of color.”

The new “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017” further diminishes care for 13 million women, the majority are low income and women of color, as the proposed legislation repeals maternity coverage and prescription drugs like birth control pills.  These cuts have been opposed by the American Public Health Association, the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

As if the Republican healthcare plan was not unpopular enough already, taking away women’s access to Planned Parenthood health centers is completely against the will of the people.  Polling from Quinnipiac shows that 80% of voters oppose “defunding” Planned Parenthood and blocking access to Planned Parenthood health centers.

Yesterday, Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan held an emergancy field hearing on the newly released, “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017,” at the University of New Hampshire School of Law.

At the hearing, Planned Parenthood advocate Ruthie Redmond praised both Senators Shaheen and Hassan for their commitment to the life-saving and life-changing health care provided at Planned Parenthood health centers. With such strong support for stopping Trumpcare from the federal delegation, patient advocates expressed disappointment in New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, and his silence thus far during the healthcare debate.

During the event, Planned Parenthood patient Ruthie Redmond called on Governor Sununu to stand up for women. “Sununu’s tepid support for the AHCA and his silence on the devastating impact of defunding Planned Parenthood leads me to believe he’s quickly forgotten the campaign promise he made to the women of this state – to “stand up to his party and protect access to women’s health,” said Ruthie Redmond, of Manchester, NH.

“We thank Senators Shaheen and Hassan for being champions for women’s health in the US Senate, and always standing up for the 11,000 NH patients who rely on Planned Parenthood’s services. In order to keep Granite State women and families healthy, we must all work together to stop this dangerous bill,” added Montgomery.

We must make our voices heard and stand in opposition to the ideological, partisan attacks on the premier low-cost health care provider in the country.  Call your Senators today (202-224-3121) and tell them to oppose the “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017” and that you specifically oppose the cuts to Planned Parenthood.

NH Elected Officials, Seniors Group, And Labor Unions Speak Out Against Senate Version Of Trumpcare

By now you have probably heard about the Senate Republicans plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with a terrible new bill called the “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017“.

The text of the “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017” was released yesterday and it is worse that we thought it would be.  ThinkProgress laid out some of the details in their post last night.  Here are a couple of the top issues with the new legislation from ThinkProgress.

  • The bill would strip health care coverage from millions of low income Americans by rolling back the expansion of Medicaid — and then making even deeper cuts.
  • The bill would follow the Obamacare subsidy model, but help fewer people.  Subsidies would only be available to those making 350% of poverty instead of the ACA’s 400%
  • The Senate bill is a massive tax cut for the rich. Rolling back taxes on those who make $200,000 a year.
  • The bill will mean higher out-of-pocket medical costs for many people with insurance.
  • The bill will seek to limit the ability of insurers to provide coverage for abortions.
  • The bill will hit older Americans especially hard. Rates for older Americans raise astronomically, making healthcare completely unaffordable.

New Hampshire’s elected leaders are speaking out against this new GOP plan.

“The Senate Republican’s secretive healthcare repeal bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing that would be devastating to the health of Granite Staters,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “If passed, it would mean less coverage for fewer people at higher costs, all while giving a tax cut to the wealthy. It would significantly cut Medicaid and the program’s expansion, hurting our state’s response to the opioid epidemic, place an age tax on New Hampshire seniors, and take aim at women’s health by defunding Planned Parenthood, which provides vital healthcare services to more than 12,000 Granite State women. Taken together, this is a bad deal for New Hampshire and a bad deal for the American people. I will do everything that I can to fight it, which is why I am holding an emergency field hearing in Concord tomorrow with Senator Hassan to hear directly from Granite Staters. I will also continue to urge my Republican colleagues to work across the aisle to make needed fixes to the Affordable Care Act, not repeal it, so that more Americans have affordable, accessible healthcare.”

“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans took the House Trumpcare bill, which even President Trump admitted was ‘mean,’ and managed to make it even more heartless,” said Senator Maggie Hassan. “Under the Senate Trumpcare bill, if you buy your own insurance, you could have to pay more for your coverage. You could face an age tax, which would be especially harmful if you are between the ages of 50 and 64. And you could see states undermine the requirement that insurance companies must cover the most important services.

“The Senate Trumpcare bill also ends Medicaid expansion and makes even deeper cuts to the Medicaid program than the House bill, jeopardizing care for tens of thousands of Granite Staters including children, people struggling with addiction, seniors in nursing or at-home care, and people who experience disabilities. Trumpcare also fulfills Washington Republicans’ partisan agenda of defunding Planned Parenthood.

“There is no doubt that the Affordable Care Act needs to be improved, but Trumpcare would make things worse for most Americans – whether they currently get their insurance through their employer, buy it privately, buy it through the exchange or have Medicaid. Trumpcare would raise costs, take away coverage, and hurt people across New Hampshire, all to give billions of dollars in tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. I will do everything in my power to stop this devastating Trumpcare bill from ever becoming law, and I urge all Granite Staters to continue telling your stories and making your voices heard about how harmful this bill would be for you,” concluded Hassan.

Senator Shaheen and Senator Hassan are holding an emergancy field hearing on the Senate version of Trumpcare, today June 23rd, at 2pm, at the UNH School of Law. (More info here)

“Senate Republicans have crafted a cruel healthcare bill behind closed doors that would threaten access to healthcare for thousands of Granite Staters and millions of Americans,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “This misguided legislation would be a disaster for hardworking families in New Hampshire and cannot be allowed to become law. I’m eager to work across the aisle to repair, not repeal the Affordable Care Act. There are members of Congress, both Republican and Democrat, who want to work in a bipartisan way to make constructive improvements to the Affordable Care Act to expand access to care and lower costs. It’s long past time Republican leadership abandon its single-minded focus on repealing the Affordable Care Act and instead got down to the hard work of actually improving our healthcare delivery system for all Americans.”

“I am appalled by today’s Senate Republican healthcare repeal bill,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. “Like the House bill I vehemently opposed, it would kick millions off their coverage, charge older Americans more, and leave people who have pre-existing conditions without coverage for the care they need. The bills don’t stop at repealing the Affordable Care Act – they also end Medicaid expansion and drastically reduce funding for Medicaid. Ending Medicaid as we know it would set our state back in the fight against the heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioid crisis and put millions of kids, seniors in nursing homes, and people with disabilities at risk of losing their care.

“Senate Republicans know the majority of Americans oppose their plan, so they wrote it in secret sessions and are now trying to rush it to a vote next week. Every person in New Hampshire who gets health coverage through the individual market, Medicaid, or the New Hampshire Health Protection Program will be affected by this bill if it passes. Even people with coverage through their employer aren’t protected because states could strip back requirements that plans cover essential benefits like hospitalization, prescription drugs, or maternity care. Over the coming days, we must all speak out and make our voices heard,” Shea-Porter added.

The Alliance for Retired Americans represents over 4 million older Americans and “stand fervently against this legislation” calling the legislation as “mean” as the House version of Trumpcare.

“We all heard President Trump say he hoped the Senate version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) would be less ‘mean’ than the House version. Today, we finally got to see the secret Senate version, and it is still ‘mean’ by any reasonable test,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “No wonder Majority Leader McConnell hid this dangerous plan for so long. It will cause harm to millions of older Americans, all for the sake of tax breaks for the wealthy.

“The Senate bill decimates Medicaid. In this respect, it is worse than the House bill, enacting even deeper long-term cuts. Medicaid covers long-term care for millions of seniors and health care for people with disabilities, making this bill devastating to older and vulnerable Americans. President Trump promised on the campaign trail that he would not cut Medicaid and Medicare. He should promise to veto a bill that does not keep that promise.”

“The 4.4 million members of the Alliance for Retired Americans stand fervently against this legislation and urge senators to vote ‘no’ for the sake of seniors, the disabled and millions of working families,” Fiesta concluded.

Labor unions were quick to point out how terrible this legislation would be for working people across the country.

“The Senate’s bill follows the same failed approach as the House-passed bill. It would deny health care coverage to millions of Americans in order to lavish huge tax cuts on corporations and the wealthiest 1 percent,” said David Cox, President of the American Federation of Government Employees National, that represents over 700,000 workers. “The Senate may have written its health care bill behind closed doors, but the harmful effects this bill would have on millions of Americans could not be clearer. What Congressional leaders are doing is shameful and disgusting, and anyone with an ounce of compassion for their fellow humans should be outraged.”

“I wouldn’t have believed it possible but the health care proposal released today by Senate Republicans is in many ways worse than the version that House Republicans adopted,” Chris Shelton, President of the Communications Workers of America. “This plan, drafted in complete secrecy by a handful of Republican leaders – all men – would leave millions of Americans without health care coverage. It allows states to drop coverage for services like maternity care and emergency services.”

“Many states would be forced to kick low-income and disabled people off their health care coverage once federal funding for the Medicaid program is cut, as this Senate bill would do. The Senate’s attack on Medicaid is even worse than that of the House bill,” Shelton added 

The Communication Workers warned that union members would be punished under this new proposal as well saying “it is a slap in the face to millions of hard-working Americans who need and want access to quality, affordable care.”

“Health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers and of course the wealthiest Americans still would get tax cuts, just like in the House version.  Union members fortunate enough to keep their coverage, however, will be punished with higher costs under the “Cadillac tax” that Republicans left in place. Many Americans will find the cost of health care premiums simply unaffordable.”

The good news is that Democrats in the Senate are united against this horrible piece of legislation, but Republicans should also be outraged at this bill and take a stand for the American people.

“It’s time for those Republican Senators who today are expressing such concern about the impact of this shameful plan on ordinary Americans to show the courage of their convictions,” Shelton concluded.”

Shaheen, Hassan Introduce Bill to Improve New Hampshire’s Health Care Marketplace & Lower Premiums

 

(Washington DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined Senators Tom Carper (D-DE), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Bill Nelson (D-FL) to introduce theIndividual Health Insurance Marketplace Improvement Act to help stabilize the individual health care marketplace and lower premiums. The legislation would provide certainty in the marketplace by creating a permanent reinsurance program for the individual health insurance market, similar to the successful programs used to lower premiums and spur competition in the Medicare Part D program.

This reinsurance program would provide funding to offset larger than expected insurance claims for health insurance companies participating in the state and federal insurance marketplaces, encouraging them to offer more plans in a greater number of markets, improving competition and driving down costs for patients and families. Additionally, the bill would provide $500 million a year  from 2018 to 2020 to help states improve outreach and enrollment for the health insurance marketplaces, drawing in new members and educating the public about the need to be insured.  This outreach funding prioritizes counties where there are limited insurers left in the marketplace.

“The Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect but there’s no doubt that it’s made New Hampshire healthier,” said Shaheen. “This legislation would inject stability into the individual insurance market through a program included in the original ACA, which sunset in 2016, that helps lower premiums and spur competition. I continue to urge colleagues across the aisle to work with Democrats to improve the Affordable Care Act though legislation like this, not wholesale repeal a law that is working.”

“We must work together across party lines to help ease the burden of health care costs that are squeezing far too many hard-working Granite Staters and Americans,” Hassan said.“This common-sense legislation will help lower premiums for middle class Americans and stabilize the individual market, which the Trump Administration has been working to sabotage. I continue to stand ready to work with anyone who is serious about improving upon the Affordable Care Act and lowering health care costs for Granite State families, and this bill is an important first step.”

The Individual Health Insurance Marketplace Improvement Act would:

  • Lower premiums, which would also decrease the cost of Advance Premium tax credits,
  • Increase competition among insurers,
  • Provide funding to states to improve outreach and enrollment in the health insurance marketplaces,
  • And provide additional marketplace stability for insurers, providers, and patients.

The reinsurance program would increase stability in the individual health insurance marketplaces by providing federal funding to cover 80 percent of insurance claims between $50,000 and $500,000 from 2018-2020. Starting in 2021, federal funding would cover 80 percent of insurance claims between $100,000 and $500,000.

View full text of the Individual Health Insurance Marketplace Improvement Act, here.

  • Subscribe to the NH Labor News via Email

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 12,332 other subscribers

  • Advertisement

  • Advertisement