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Senator Hassan Highlights Importance of Taking Action to Address Skyrocketing Cost of Prescription Drugs

 Click here or see below for footage of the hearing.

WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan focused on the need to address the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs in a Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing today.

Senator Hassan highlighted the fact that the United States is one of only two developed countries to allow prescription drug corporations to advertise their products directly to consumers on television and other media, and that the government gives these companies a tax break for these ads.

Asked by Senator Hassan why it would be appropriate to end tax breaks for pharmaceutical advertising, Norm Augustine, Chair of Committee on Ensuring Patient Access to Affordable Drug Therapies at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, agreed that “there are several negative aspects of this form of advertising,” including the cost of advertising that “shows up in the end price of the product of the advertiser.”

A National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report suggests eliminating the tax breaks drug makers get from the government for these ads, and Senator Hassan cosponsored legislation that includes a provision to end these tax breaks.

Senator Hassan also called attention to anti-competitive behavior by the drug maker Allergan. Allergan recently paid a Native American tribe to take ownership of the patents for its blockbuster dry-eye drug, Restasis, and then Allergan licenses back the patents, continuing to sell the drug as usual. The move was meant to shield the patents from review and protect Allergan’s market monopoly at the expense of patients. In response to Senator Hassan’s concerns about what this sham deal means for patients, David Mitchell, President and Founder of Patients for Affordable Drugs, said “the company is treating it like it’s a game, and ‘how can we figure out a way around the laws of the United States,’” adding, “Allergan’s behavior is offensive, and it hurts people. It’s not a game.”

Senator Hassan Names “Might Max” As Her Granite Stater Of The Month

Senator Hassan Delivers Senate Floor Speech Announcing Max Mendez of Merrimack as Granite Stater of the Month for December

New Hampshire Eight-Year-Old Battling Leukemia Started “Mighty Max’s Mega Toy Drive”

WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan spoke today on the Senate floor, where she announced that Max Mendez, an eight-year-old boy from Merrimack who started “Mighty Max’s Mega Toy Drive” while battling leukemia, is her “Granite Stater of the Month” for December.

After Max received toys from Boston Children’s Hospital as a reward for his courage during treatment, he started the “Mighty Max Mega Toy Drive” with help from family and friends to help resupply the Jimmy Fund Clinic, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and Boston Children’s Hospital’s hematology and oncology unit with presents for brave young patients like himself. For more information on the toy drive, visit: facebook.com/mightymaxtoydrive/

Click here for video or see below for Senator Hassan’s remarks:

Mr. President, it is my honor to announce our latest Granite Stater of the Month, an inspiring, resilient, and generous young man from Merrimack, New Hampshire. Max Mendez, an 8-year-old boy, also known as “Mighty Max” and “Professor Max,” has battled leukemia for over a year, and he has proven to be a shining example of the values that make the Granite State – and all of our communities – strong.

As Max began treatment last year – procedures, blood draws, and tests at Boston Children’s Hospital – he was often recognized for his courage and grit. The hospital had a supply of toys and after these procedures he would often be rewarded with one them. Max received so many toys that he started to donate some of them to other kids, and realized that giving toys felt even better than receiving them. In the face of his own severe health challenges, Max started “Mighty Max’s Mega Toy Drive” to help supply the Jimmy Fund Clinic, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and Boston Children’s Hospital’s hematology and oncology unit with presents for brave young patients like himself.

In true Granite State fashion, Max and his family received invaluable support from their community, including friends, local businesses, schools, sports teams, and the local police department. Max’s community donated toys, offered space as collection sites, and delivered donations to Max and the Mendez family. With extra help from his sister, Mckayla, and the Lyna family who helped advertise the toy drive and store donations, Mighty Max’s Mega Toy Drive received roughly 3,000 toys ahead of the holiday season this year.

Mighty Max, the Mendez family, and all of the Granite Staters who supported the toy drive demonstrate the spirit that makes New Hampshire such a strong, resilient state. While battling leukemia and enduring painful treatments, Max found it in himself to bring joy to others who face similar challenges, and his entire community – including people Max will never meet – is stronger because of his generous spirit and hard work. Max is an inspiration for all of us during this holiday season and beyond, and I am proud to call him our Granite Stater of the Month.

Senators Shaheen, Hassan Call On Trump Administration to Reinstate Birth Control Coverage for Millions of Women

In letter, Senators urge Trump Administration to rescind President Trump’s action allowing employers to roll back health care coverage for women

WASHINGTON – This week, Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined 36 of their colleagues in calling on Acting Secretary of Health and Human Services Eric Hargan to rescind President Trump’s interim final rules (IFRs) issued on October 13, 2017, enabling employers and universities to interfere with their employees’ and students’ access to preventive health care by allowing them to choose not to cover birth control for religious or moral reasons.

In the letter, the senators highlighted the enormous economic benefit of requiring health plans to cover preventive services, including birth control for women, without out-of-pocket costs.

“This requirement has helped 62.4 million women have coverage for birth control. As a result, they have been able to make decisions about their reproductive health care that strengthen their economic standing and allow them to decide if and when to start families,” wrote the senators. “These IFRs also allow employers and insurance companies to once again discriminate against women by requiring them to pay more for the health care they need compared to their male counterparts.”

The senators also noted that repealing the contraceptive coverage provision goes against the original intentions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which created explicit provisions to guarantee women access to preventive services.

“Congress specifically included the Women’s Health Amendment in the ACA to ensure that the legislation would end the “punitive practices of insurances companies that charge women more and give [them] less in a benefit” by guaranteeing women access to preventive services,” the senators wrote. “The IFRs fail to recognize this clear congressional intent to place medical experts’ recommendations over political ideology.”

See full text of the letter below or click HERE:

20171205_BirthControlIFR

Republicans Ram Through Their Tax Scam

Senators were given two hours to read the 400+ page bill before being asked to vote on it.

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last three days by now you have already heard that Republicans in the Senate rammed through their wildly unpopular tax proposal that will raise taxes on the middle class and strip healthcare from 13 million people. The bill would also raise our national deficit by over $1 trillion dollars over the next ten years.

“This partisan tax bill is a giveaway to corporate special interests, not something that will help the middle class,” said Senator Maggie Hassan. “I am extremely disappointed that my Republican colleagues passed a bill that non-partisan experts have shown will raise taxes on millions of hard-working families, increase health care premiums by 10 percent annually, and add $1.5 trillion to the national debt – all to give tax cuts to corporate special interests and the wealthiest few. There is strong bipartisan support for real tax reform that would benefit hard-working people and small businesses, but this is not that bill.”

“We need bipartisan tax reform to simplify our tax code, bolster the middle class, support small businesses and create jobs. But the partisan bill forced through the Senate and passed on a party-line vote failed to address any of these critical needs,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “This legislation asks middle-class families to foot the bill for massive tax breaks for the wealthy and large corporations, and will have serious ramifications for Granite Staters who rely on important tax benefits that are eliminated under this bill. I am tremendously disappointed by the secretive manner in which Senate Republicans crafted this legislation, and I’m concerned about how the middle class, seniors, homeowners, teachers and so many others will suffer as a result of this legislation. As the tax overhaul process moves forward, I’ll continue to push for bipartisanship and to protect essential New Hampshire priorities, including the state and local tax deduction and the student loan interest deduction.”

The Republican tax bill will add nearly $1.5 trillion to the national debt and make most families who earn less than $75,000 a year pay more in taxes by 2027. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, by 2019, Americans earning less than $30,000 a year will be worse off. The bill would lead to $25 billion in cuts from Medicare, harming seniors, and repeals part of the Affordable Care Act, which will raise healthcare costs and leave more Americans uninsured. Additionally, the Republican tax plan could prevent homeowners in New Hampshire from deducting state and local taxes and increase the tax burden on work-study students at colleges and universities.

“At a moment when 10,000 Americans are turning 65 every day, members of the Senate have stolen the retirement health benefits that Americans have earned over a lifetime to provide an unneeded windfall to the top 1%. They seem determined to create a retirement crisis that will take decades to reverse,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans.

“The GOP tax bill that passed the Senate by one vote is nothing but an attack on America’s workers,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. “We will pay more, corporations and billionaires will pay less. It’s a job killer. It gives billions of tax giveaways to big corporations that outsource jobs and profits.”

“President Trump said that he wanted to lower taxes for everyone as a Christmas gift to America, but this bill is simply a lump of coal to working families across the country. The only real gift is the major tax giveaways to Wall Street, big corporations and the super-rich, when what our country needs is investment in our schools and infrastructures that creates jobs,” Trumka added.

“In voting to give a tax break for millionaires, billionaires, and wealthy corporations, Senate Republicans have made an enemy for themselves in their own constituents,” said Tax March Executive Director Nicole Gill. “As a result of this monstrous bill, 87 million middle-class families would pay more in taxes so that Republicans can reward their rich donors with even more unearned tax breaks. Not only would working families see their own taxes go up, this bill threatens massive cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and critical funding for programs that hardworking Americans rely on. Senators who voted for this scheme should be ashamed and will not avoid the repercussions from voters – we won’t forget.”

“The bill passed today is nothing more than a giveaway to the richest households and corporations, period,” said Josh Bivens, of the Economic Policy Institute. “It will raise taxes on many low- and moderate-income households, and the deficits it will leave in its wake will be used to attack Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—a strategy clearly telegraphed by both the Republican budget resolution from last month as well as by Senator Rubio more recently. Besides lying about who would benefit most directly from the tax cut, defenders of today’s bill have also lied about the trickle-down benefits that will accrue to workers in the form of higher wages. Simply put, this bill will not raise wages for typical workers—but it will deny health insurance to 13 million workers, a measure Senate Republicans included to help contain the overall cost of giving large tax cuts to rich households and corporations. This bill is a scam through-and-through.”

For years Republicans in the Senate have used the “Debt and Deficit” as a way to justify their votes against a variety of bills. They even shut down the government for almost two weeks because they refused to raise the debt ceiling. Yet, all of those issues seemed to disappear as they voted to increase the national debt by over $1 trillion dollars.

The Concord Coalition is a right-leaning government watchdog group that is focused on reducing the national debt and opposes these cuts.

The Concord Coalition said today that the tax legislation considered by the Senate is based on flawed economics, reckless fiscal policy and blatant budget gimmickry. It would worsen the nation’s fiscal outlook and introduce new complexities in the tax code at a time when policymakers should be aiming to lower deficits and make the tax code more efficient.

“This is the wrong bill at the wrong time,” said Robert L. Bixby, Concord’s executive director. “Like its counterpart in the House, the Senate’s tax bill is based on the flawed premise that another trillion dollars or more of new debt is needed to spur higher economic growth.”

He added: “The economy does not need short-term stimulus from a major tax cut at this time. And over the long term, adding more debt to the already unsustainable path of current fiscal policies would act as a restraint on future growth. Revenue-neutral tax reform would not have this problem.”

Because the Senate version and the House version are different, a committee of conference will be created to iron out the details before it must come back for an “up and down” vote.

Senator Hassan Helps Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Expand Breastfeeding Protections at Work

WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Maggie Hassan announced that she helped introduce the Supporting Working Moms Act of 2017. This bipartisan legislation would help ensure that more working mothers can continue to breastfeed their babies after they return to work.

This bill builds on an existing law authored by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney in 2010 that provides space and time for hourly employees to pump breastmilk at work. The Supporting Working Moms Act would extend these protections to salaried workers.

“Ensuring that women can continue to breastfeed when returning to the workplace is critical to the health and well-being of mothers and babies, and it is essential to our country’s economic stability,” Senator Hassan said. “This bipartisan bill is a common-sense measure to help ensure that women can remain in the workplace while supporting the health of their children and contributing to our nation’s economic success. I will continue fighting to ensure that women have the freedom to make their own health care decisions and are not held back from participating in our economy because of outdated policies.”

According to the Business Case for Breastfeeding, published by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2014, employers that provide support for breastfeeding mothers experience lower health care costs, lower rates of absenteeism, and better retention of experienced employees.

The Supporting Working Moms Act would help new parents and babies by expanding the breastfeeding provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act to cover salaried office workers:

  • The 2010 Merkley-Maloney provision amended Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act to provide mothers who are classified as non-exempt employees with reasonable break times to pump milk in a private, non-bathroom environment while at work.
  • The Supporting Working Moms Act would expand this provision to cover salaried employees who work in traditional office environments.
  • The expansion would cover an additional approximate 13.5 million executive, administrative, and professional women in the workplace.

The Supporting Working Moms Act is endorsed by the following national organizations:

Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine

American Association of Birth Centers

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

Baby Cafe USA

Breastfeeding in Combat Boots

Childbirth and Postpartum Professionals Association

HealthConnect One

Healthy Children Project, Inc.

Human Milk Banking Association of North America

International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners

Mom2Mom Global

MomsRising

National Association of County and City Health Officials

National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners

National Partnership for Women & Families

National WIC Association

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Congresswoman Annie Kuster also spoke out against the order.

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

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

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


UPDATED to include statement from NH Democratic Leadership

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

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

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

The Republican Sabotage Of Healthcare

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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