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Senator Hassan Commends Harbor Homes For Work Fighting Veteran Homelessness

Senator Hassan Commends Harbor Homes, Community Leaders for Efforts to Effectively End Veteran Homelessness in Nashua,
Highlights Work Ahead to Support Veterans and their Families

NASHUA – Friday, Senator Maggie Hassan participated in the celebration of the greater Nashua region’s effort to effectively end veteran homelessness, where she commended Harbor Homes and community members for their efforts and emphasized that more work must be done to end veteran homelessness in New Hampshire and across the nation. 

Senator Hassan speaking at Harbor Homes in Nashua.

The celebration brought together local stakeholders, community members, veterans, and elected officials to celebrate the City of Nashua for receiving certification from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness for having effectively ended homelessness among veterans in the region. 

“All citizens, especially our brave veterans who have sacrificed for our freedoms, deserve the opportunity to live healthy, productive lives,” Senator Hassan said. “I commend Harbor Homes for its tireless efforts to effectively end veteran homelessness through its ‘Veterans FIRST’ program, as well as local and state veterans groups for their commitment to this important issue, but we know that our work is far from over. We must continue working together at all levels to ensure that our veterans, service members, and their families have the support and resources they need – and deserve – to thrive in our economic and civic life.”

As Governor of New Hampshire, Senator Hassan worked with Harbor Homes on the Housing Choice Vouchers for Veterans Program to help veterans transition to permanent housing in the community, helping to open more beds to serve homeless veterans at Harbor Homes. Also as Governor, the Senator’s office coordinated regular calls with community agencies aimed at developing housing plans for individual homeless veterans in Nashua and across the state. 

In the Senate, Senator Hassan has continued her efforts to end veteran homelessness. This week, the Senator joined her colleagues in introducing bipartisan legislation to assist and empower women veterans, which included measures that will work to combat homelessness among women veterans. The Senator also joined in introducing legislation that would provide education benefits to service members and veterans who often have to leave behind schools, jobs, and homes to serve their country. Yesterday, the Senator joined Senator Shaheen in introducing the VA Appeals Modernization Act of 2017 to help streamline the appeals process for veterans to access their benefits. 

Senator Hassan Joins Colleagues, Advocates for Disability Community in Speaking Out Against Trumpcare

Senator Highlights Devastating Impact Cuts to Medicaid Would Have on Critical Services for Granite Staters Who Experience Disabilities

WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), former Senator Tom Harkin, members of the disability community, and advocates for a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol highlighting the devastating impact Trumpcare would have on Granite Staters and Americans who experience disabilities.

“Trumpcare hurts people who experience disabilities with drastic cuts to the traditional Medicaid program,” Senator Hassan said to advocates outside the Capitol. “This plan changes Medicaid into per capita caps or a block grant system – and that is just code for a massive cut to the federal support states receive…[If Trumpcare passes], states will be faced with cutting services that people with disabilities depend on, such as personal care, prescription drugs, and rehabilitation services.”

“We can’t afford to go back to the days where we marginalize or don’t assist some of our most vulnerable people, so I’ll will stand strong with the people of New Hampshire, and my colleagues in fighting against this dangerous bill that would pull us backward,” Senator Hassan added.

Senator Hassan emphasized the importance of building a stronger, more inclusive society where all citizens can be engaged and active in our economic and civic life. The Senator also urged attendees to continue speaking out against Trumpcare, underscoring the importance of advocacy efforts in impacting real change on a local and federal level.

Watch video of the press conference here.

Senator Hassan Presses DOL Nominee Alex Acosta on Workplace Safety

Senator Also Highlights Importance of Job Training
and New Hampshire’s Job Corps Center

WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Maggie Hassan participated in the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee confirmation hearing for Alex Acosta, President Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Labor.

Senator Hassan highlighted the importance of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and OSHA inspections, which reduce injury rates at inspected workplaces and lower worker compensation costs.

The Senator noted that there are only seven OSHA inspectors to oversee safety and health at 50,000 worksites throughout New Hampshire, and voiced concerns with President Trump’s budget proposal to cut the Department of Labor’s budget by 21 percent. Senator Hassan asked Mr. Acosta, “Can you commit that if confirmed as Secretary that you will advocate for and seek funding that will maintain OSHA’s enforcement budget at no less than current levels?” Mr. Acosta responded, “I would be very concerned in a situation like you mentioned where there are only seven inspectors because going from seven to six has a substantial impact.” However, despite acknowledging the negative impact of a shortage of OSHA inspectors, Mr. Acosta wouldn’t commit to fighting to prevent harmful cuts that would exacerbate the situation.

Senator Hassan also pressed Mr. Acosta on his commitment to creating a more inclusive work environment for Granite Staters and Americans who experience disabilities. Citing that federal law allows employers to pay subminimum wages to workers who experience disabilities, Senator Hassan asked Mr. Acosta if he “supports individuals who experience disabilities being paid a subminimum wage.” Mr. Acosta declined to directly answer the Senator’s question or commit to supporting individuals who experience disabilities, saying, “I think this is a very difficult issue.”

In her opening statement, Senator Hassan also expressed her concern with President Trump’s proposed budget cuts that would decimate job training programs throughout the nation, and highlighted the importance of job training programs and the new Job Corps Center in New Hampshire that is helping build a stronger workforce that businesses throughout the state need to grow and compete. The Senator urged Mr. Acosta to do everything in his power should he be confirmed “to support both job training and our Job Corps Centers.”

After the Senate hearing, Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, released the following statement:

“Alex Acosta’s testimony today raises serious questions and doubts whether he is committed to making life better for working families. Mr. Acosta’s nomination was a major improvement over the previous nominee, based on his qualifications, yet he offered no indication that he would use those qualifications to stand up for workers.

 The Labor Secretary is not just another Cabinet member – his or her actions directly impact our wages, safety, retirement security and rights on the job every single day. Working people wanted to hear how Mr. Acosta would enforce and uphold labor laws to benefit us and not further tilt the balance of power toward corporate CEOs. Today, presented with the opportunity, he failed to do so and ensure America’s workers he’s on our side.”

Watch Senator Hassan question Alex Acosta below.

Watch video of Senator Hassan’s questioning here.

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,

Senator Hassan Reintroduces Paid Sick Leave Bill

 Healthy Families Act would help hard-working Americans, protect public health, and strengthen the economy

WASHINGTON – This week, Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined her colleagues in the Senate and House in introducing the Healthy Families Act, which would allow Granite State workers to earn paid sick leave to use when they are sick, to care for a loved one, to obtain preventative care, or to address the impacts of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault. Currently, 41 million workers across the nation do not have access to paid sick leave, forcing them to take time off with no pay, and at times even risk their jobs when they or a loved one is sick. 

“Ensuring that our workers have the flexibility to support themselves and their families during times of need is critical to maintaining a healthy and productive workforce and a strong economy,” Senator Hassan said. “I’m proud to join in reintroducing the Healthy Families Act to help ensure that no hard-working American is forced to choose between their health and economic security. I’ll continue working across the aisle to expand paid family leave in order to strengthen our families, our businesses, and our economy.”

The Healthy Families Act would allow workers at businesses with at least 15 employees to earn up to 56 hours, or seven days, of paid sick leave each year. This would allow workers to stay home when they are ill, to care for a sick family member, seek preventive medical care, or seek assistance related to domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault. 

Businesses that already provide paid sick leave would not have to change their current policies, as long as they meet the minimum standards of the Healthy Families Act. Studies show that paid sick leave can reduce the spread of contagious diseases like the flu and a national paid sick day policy would reduce emergency room visits by 1.3 million annually, saving $1.1 billion a year.

Senator Hassan is a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

 

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.”

Senator Hassan Joins Colleagues in Calling on Education Department to Explain Delay of Gainful Employment Rule

Image from Senator Hassan on FLIKR (All Rights Reserved)

Senators Argue Delay Hurts Students and Needlessly Stalls Important Protections for Taxpayers

WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined a group of her Senate colleagues in calling on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to explain the Department’s decision to delay the implementation of the Gainful Employment rule, which cracks down on for-profit higher education institutions that fail to prepare students for good-paying jobs that allow them to repay their student debt. Last week, the Department of Education announced it would postpone the deadline for failing schools to submit appeals of their debt-to-earnings rates and delay the use of a new disclosure template to provide students better information about their programs. 

“The Gainful Employment rule is a critical protection for both students and taxpayers,” the Senators wrote in a letter to Secretary DeVos. “It will encourage improvement of career education programs that fail to adequately prepare students for good-paying jobs that allow them to repay their student debt, and cut off federal financial aid to programs that continue to fall short of these reasonable expectations. This will help prevent students from amassing debt that they can’t repay and reduce taxpayer dollars being wasted on underperforming programs. Disappointingly, [the Department] has now moved the March and April deadlines back to July 1, 2017, on the grounds that the delay will allow time to ‘further review’ the regulation… [T]his delay needlessly stalls important protections for students and taxpayers and creates more uncertainty for schools.” 

The letter was also signed by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Patty Murray (D-WA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jack Reed (D-RI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Al Franken (D-MN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Chris Murphy (D-CT).

Federal law requires career education and certificate programs at for-profit, not-for-profit, and public institutions to prepare students for “gainful employment in a recognized occupation” in order to qualify for federal student aid. The Department’s Gainful Employment rule seeks to hold institutions to that statutory responsibility. Final debt-to-earnings data released by the Obama Administration in January revealed that 98 percent of the 800 failing degree programs identified were offered by for-profit colleges. 

Full text of the letter is available here and below:

March 13, 2017
The Honorable Elisabeth DeVos
Secretary
Department of Education
400 Maryland Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20202

 

Dear Secretary DeVos:  

            We write today regarding our serious concerns over the Department of Education’s (ED) announcement delaying implementation of the Gainful Employment (GE) rule. 

            The Gainful Employment rule is a critical protection for both students and taxpayers.  It will encourage improvement of career education programs that fail to adequately prepare students for good paying jobs that allow them to repay their student debt, and cut off federal financial aid to programs that continue to fall short of these reasonable expectations.  This will help prevent students from amassing debt that they can’t repay and reduce taxpayer dollars being wasted on underperforming programs.  

            On January 9, 2017, the Department of Education released final Debt-to-Earnings (D/E) rates for all GE programs at public, non-profit, and for-profit schools.  These rates were generated using earnings data from the Social Security Administration and data on program completers reported by institutions.  GE afforded schools two opportunities to formally challenge ED’s calculations of their data before the January 9 release. 

            The rule, generously, gives schools a third opportunity for appeal after the release of final D/E rates.  Schools can submit alternate earnings data for “failing” or “zone” (near-failing) programs if that data will improve the program’s rate significantly enough to avoid sanctions.  The deadline for colleges to notify ED of their intent to file an alternate earnings appeal was January 23.  Schools then had until March 10 – more than six weeks – to submit their final appeals. 

In addition, schools were required to begin using the new GE Disclosure Template by April 3.  This new and improved template includes a more meaningful completion rate, the typical earnings of graduates, whether a program meets state licensure requirements, and a prominent warning for failing programs that do not have appeals pending.  The GE Disclosure Template will help students be better informed consumers.  

Disappointingly, ED has now moved the March and April deadlines back to July 1, 2017, on the grounds that the delay will allow time to “further review” the regulation.  According to a Department spokesperson, the delay was also due to “a question about whether schools can provide data to a third party.”  It is unclear how this question could not have been solved through follow-up guidance rather than delay.  The Department has already gone through an extensive federal rulemaking process and the Gainful Employment rule has been upheld by federal courts. Therefore, this delay needlessly stalls important protections for students and taxpayers and creates more uncertainty for schools. 

As such, we seek your answers to the following questions: 

  • Why did the Department delay the deadline for schools to file alternate earnings appeals and use the GE Disclosure Template?
  • What is the scope of the Department’s current “review” of the GE regulations and their implementation?
  • Did ED explore alternative options to the delay for resolving any questions about the use of data by third-parties, including issuing guidance?
  • Of the programs for which the Department received notice of an intent to appeal by January 23, 2017, how many alternate earnings appeals have been submitted to the Department as of the date of this letter?
  • What is the timeline for the Department to resolve all of the alternate earnings appeals received by July 1, 2017?
  • Will you commit to swiftly enforce the requirement, which took effect February 8, that institutions provide warnings to current and prospective students for failing programs where no notice of an intent to appeal was received by January 23, 2017?
  • Will you commit to requiring schools to use the new GE Disclosure Template no later than July 1, 2017?
  • Will you commit to no further delays in the Department’s implementation and enforcement of GE? 

Implementation of this rule is an important part of your responsibility as Secretary to protect students and appropriately oversee taxpayer dollars.  In fact, in recent testimony before a House subcommittee, Department of Education Inspector General Kathleen Tighe agreed that “the gainful employment rule is a good rule in terms of protecting kids and protecting taxpayers’ dollars.”  Further delays or other attempts to undermine Gainful Employment implementation are unacceptable.

We look forward to your prompt response to our questions.

Sincerely,

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. 

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.”

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.

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