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NH Senate Votes To End Medicaid Expansion And Leave 40,000 Stranded Without Insurance

Today, the New Hampshire Senate voted straight down party lines against continuing the state’s partisan Medicaid expansion.

New Hampshire Senate Republicans including Jeb Bradley have praised the state’s bipartisan Medicaid expansion program, saying “the indications are that it’s working exactly as we intended. It’s reducing emergency room visits, and reducing what I call the ‘hidden tax’ of uncompensated care.”

Yet despite touting the program’s benefits for New Hampshire’s people, businesses and economy, the Senate Finance Committee voted yesterday along party lines against continuing the bipartisan plan.

“Just yesterday, Republican Senators on the Finance Committee touted the success of our bipartisan Medicaid expansion plan,” said Senator Woodburn. “This isn’t a partisan issue. New Hampshire’s business community, including the Business and Industry Association, has called on us to continue the state’s successful expansion program because it’s reducing heath care cost-shifting onto our families and businesses, strengthening the health of our workforce, and boosting our economy.”

Experts have pointed out that the uncertainty caused by the legislature’s inaction will affect insurance companies’ decisions and could lead to increased rates for all Granite Staters in the private market. The New Hampshire Hospital Association today released a new report showing a 22% drop in emergency room visits by uninsured patients during the first nine months of expansion and reinforcing once again that the state’s bipartisan expansion plan is working.

“Senate Republicans including Jeb Bradley have made clear that the state’s bipartisan Medicaid expansion plan is working and should be continued,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “There’s simply no excuse for why members of both parties can’t come together now to maintain our commitment to New Hampshire’s people, businesses, and economy by continuing the state’s successful expansion plan.”

The legislature’s failure to act now to protect Medicaid expansion could lead to increased rates for all Granite Staters on the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Jennifer Patterson of the state’s Insurance Department recently told the AP, “The decisions that (insurance companies) make and any uncertainties that result from what’s going on in the legislative process, all of that gets played out in the rate development, and that is reflected across the entire private market.”

Lisa Guertin, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Hampshire, told the AP, “It has huge implications on the prices people pay.”

“Today’s vote against continuing the successful Medicaid expansion we enacted just last summer is short-sighted, partisan, and disappointing,” said Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern. “This expanded coverage was the result of widespread support in the business and healthcare communities, a bipartisan law, and several 3-2 votes on the Executive Council.  By all accounts it has been tremendously successful, with a big drop in uninsured patient visits in New Hampshire’s Emergency Rooms.”

Van Ostern continued, “This past Sunday, I spoke with a woman whose sister now has coverage through the NH Medicaid expansion we enacted. Her voice broke when she said thank you, and she said policy makers in Concord need to know that their votes affect real people’s lives. She deserves better than today’s vote.”

“Playing chicken with the healthcare coverage of 40,000 New Hampshire citizens — and the families and employers who rely on them — is bad public policy. Our people and our economy can’t afford this uncertainty,” added Van Ostern.

“Not only do Senate Republicans lack any plan to protect coverage for the tens of thousands of Granite Staters who have gotten covered thanks to the state’s successful expansion plan, but their failure to act now could lead to increased rates for all Granite Staters in the private market,” added Buckley.

New AFL-CIO Report Highlights Reasons Why TPP Is Not the Answer to Trade Issues with China

Read the report here

(Washington, DC) – On a conference call today, AFL-CIO Policy Director and Special Counsel Damon Silvers and Roosevelt Institute Senior Economist Adam Hersh described the reasons why the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is not the solution to improving China’s trade policies.

The U.S.-China Economic Relationship: The TPP is Not the Answer,” report explains why the TPP will have no effect on the way China sets its trade policy. It debunks claims that failure to pass TPP will allow China to set the rules of international trade.

“From what we know about the TPP, it’s a low-standards agreement from the perspective of working people.  It would solidify a model of globalization that drives wages and public interest policies down, it wouldn’t address job killing currency manipulation, and it could allow China to reap the benefits of the agreement without joining,” said Silvers. “It would undermine efforts to raise wages in China and to revive U.S. manufacturing. Congress must reject the notion that ‘TPP at any cost’ is worth it.  A corporate-driven TPP cedes important American values and hurts working families in the process.”

“The argument that TPP can counterbalance China’s rising economic power in the region holds no water,” said Hersh.  “In fact, Chinese policymakers are eager to see TPP completed for the opportunity to expand their economic footprint across Asia.”

A digitized replay of the call is available from today at 12:30 pm to 5/21/15 at 12:30 pm EST.

Telephone:   (USA) (800) 475-6701     (International) (320) 365-3844        Access Code: 360686

Read the report here.

House Bill Provides Chance for Expanded, Long-term Highway/Transit Funding Legislation

Transportation Trade Department Logo

Washington, DC—Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), issues this statement in advance of a House vote on a short-term extension of expiring highway and transit investment programs:

“Today we are urging a YES vote on H.R. 2353, a short-term extension of expiring highway/transit programs that will keep pressure on lawmakers and the President to complete a long-term bill this summer.

“It is a sad state when a two month legislative extension is a victory. But we called for this action. A short-term bill through July gives a chance to build momentum around a longer-term funding bill that gives states and businesses the certainty they need, boosts middle class job creation, and ends the mindless, short-sighted game of patchwork extensions.

“If lawmakers squander the chance this summer to craft a bipartisan, long-term bill that expands funding, the nation will be doomed to years of transportation decay and gridlock with no end in sight. And the voters will be left with no one to blame but the people they send to Washington.”

On The Senate Floor, Jeanne Shaheen Urges Action On Her Amendments To Trade Bill

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – During floor debate today about the Trade Promotion Authority legislation currently under consideration by the U.S. Senate, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) urged her colleagues to support two of her amendments to the legislation: the first, would boost small business exports and make sure that trade agreements work for small businesses, and the second, would eliminate a wasteful and duplicative government program on catfish regulation.

Video of her remarks are available here.

More information on the Shaheen amendment to help Small Businesses trade in the international marketplace:

Senator Shaheen’s amendment takes a number of steps to help small businesses take advantage of trade, such as reauthorizing the State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) grant program through 2020 and increasing funding for the program by $5 million per year. The STEP programwhich Shaheen helped create, is an export initiative that has successfully helped small businesses to enter the international marketplace and create jobs.

One company that has benefitted from the program is Corfin Industries of Salem, New Hampshire. Before STEP was implemented, its international sales were just 2%. Now, that number is up to 12%, and as a result the company has added 22 employees.

The appropriations bill that funded the government for the 2015 fiscal year reauthorized and funded the program. The Shaheen amendment would reauthorize the program through 2020. The STEP program has supported more than $900 million in U.S. small business exports, producing a return-on-investment of 15 to1 for taxpayers.

Shaheen’s amendment, in addition to reauthorizing the STEP program, would require an assessment by the Small Business Administration on the impact of a potential trade agreement on U.S. small businesses.

More information on the Shaheen amendment to eliminate a wasteful and harmful catfish inspection program:

The Shaheen amendment would repeal a new program tasked with inspecting and grading catfish that places jurisdiction for catfish inspection with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), while leaving regulation of all other seafood with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

During a hearing in the Small Business Committee earlier this month, Senator Shaheen highlighted the impact creating a duplicative and wasteful catfish inspection program at the USDA would have on High Liner Foods, a seafood company with operations based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire that employs more than 300 Granite Staters. As a seafood processor, High Liner currently deals with inspections from the FDA. The impending creation of a new inspection program just for catfish is preventing the company from expanding its offerings and operations, as the costs of complying with two different inspection regimes is prohibitive. A letter from High Liner is available here.

USDA has warned that the program may cost as much as $15 million a year to operate and has already cost $20 million without having inspected a single catfish. The U.S. Government Accountability Office, which evaluates risk for wasteful spending, has recommended eliminating the program in nine separate reports, calling it “duplicative” and “high-risk” for waste, fraud, and abuse.

Senator Shaheen wrote an op-ed “End the Catfish-Inspection Boondoggle,” that was published in Roll Call newspaper earlier this month.

Senate Democrats Denounce Cuts to Substance Abuse Prevention

Senate Finance Republicans Cut Funding for Office of Substance Use Disorders and Behavioral Health

 

CONCORD – Today, Senators Lou D’Allesandro andAndrew Hosmer, Democratic members of the Senate Finance Committee, condemned the cuts to substance abuse prevention made by Senate Republicans in the budget: 

“We are in the middle of a substance abuse and heroin epidemic and it is completely irresponsible to eliminate this funding,” said Senator D’Allesandro.“All session long, we have seen the outcry from our communities for help dealing with this epidemic and funding in this area should be a priority for all Senators, not one that is open to cuts that go beyond the House’s draconian budget.”

 

Along a party-line vote of 4-2, the Senate Finance Committee voted to remove the Office of Substance Use Disorders and Behavioral Health along with funding for a senior director position that would coordinate the state’s response to the substance abuse crisis. This position was proposed by Governor Hassan and included in the House version of the budget. Funding for this office and position was established by a grant from the NH Charitable Foundation last year and the Charitable Foundation will continue to ease the state’s burden by helping fund the position until the end of this calendar year, at which point state general funds would be required to continue this effort.

 

“This is an economic issue and a public safety issue. It requires a leader to cross-collaborate among all state agencies to find solutions to this crisis,” said Sen. Hosmer. “This office funds a key position that ensures that we are strengthening our treatment and prevention efforts is a common-sense way to ensure that the state is responding effectively to the substance misuse epidemic. The Senate Republicans move to strip this essential position shows they are out of touch with the needs of NH communities and I urge them to reconsider their actions that are putting the health and wellbeing of Granite Staters at risk.”

 

Senator Shaheen Proposes Trade Amendment To Boost NH Small Business Exports. 

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, has introduced an amendment to the Trade Promotion Authority legislation currently under consideration by the U.S. Senate that would boost exports by U.S. small businesses and make sure that trade agreements work for small businesses. The amendment takes a number of steps to help small businesses take advantage of trade, such as reauthorizing the State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) grant program through 2020 and increasing funding for the program by $5 million per year. The STEP program, which Shaheen helped create, is an export initiative that has successfully helped small businesses to enter the international marketplace and create jobs.

“As we debate expanding trade through trade agreements, we must make sure we are providing small businesses with the resources they need to reach these new markets and benefit from exporting,” Shaheen said. “Although 95 percent of the world’s customers live overseas, a very small percentage of small businesses sell internationally.  Exporting holds tremendous opportunity for small businesses in New Hampshire and across the country, and we should be doing all we can to help them tap into the global marketplace.”

The appropriations bill that funded the government for the 2015 fiscal year reauthorized and funded the program. The Shaheen amendment would reauthorize the program through 2020. The STEP program has supported more than $900 million in U.S. small business exports, producing a return-on-investment of 15 to1 for taxpayers.  

Shaheen’s amendment, in addition to reauthorizing the STEP program, would require an assessment by the Small Business Administration on the impact of a potential trade agreement on U.S. small businesses. 

Senators Shaheen & Cochran Introduce New On-The-Job Training Bill

Legislation Would Help Businesses and Job Seekers Through

Highly Successful Workforce Development Programs

Image from Senator Shaheen's Website

Image from Senator Shaheen’s Website 2014

(Washington, DC) ­– U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) today introduced bipartisan legislation that would help Americans find new jobs and update their skills through on-the-job training (OJT) programs. The On-the-Job Training Act of 2015 authorizes the Department of Labor to award competitive grants to establish and support local OJT programs, which have been demonstrated to be the most effective training model to help people gain the skills they need to get and keep jobs.

“This legislation is about getting Americans back to work with the skills they need in today’s economy,” said Shaheen. “On-the-job training programs are a highly effective way to boost local economies and help the long-term unemployed get their careers back on-track. These programs have been a success in New Hampshire and across the country and this legislation would expand them to keep America’s workforce competitive.”

“In times of economic uncertainty, we should focus on programs with a proven track record of helping businesses and creating jobs. On-the-job training programs work.  They connect employers with future employees and ensure that they have the skills needed for career advancement in many fields,” Cochran said.  “I’m pleased to join with Senator Shaheen to promote this important, bipartisan legislation.”

In on-the-job training programs, participating employers sign a contract with a local workforce board agreeing to hire workers that need training. In exchange, the employers are reimbursed for a percentage of the wages they pay the employees undergoing training, until the workers gain the skills they need for the new occupation. The participating businesses are expected to keep the newly trained employees on after their on-the-job training has completed.

Last year, Senator Shaheen secured passage of two on-the-job training provisions as part of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act that became law. The first increased the amount that businesses participating in on-the-job training can be reimbursed for wages they pay employees hired under the program and the second would enable more young people to participate in on-the-job training programs.

On-the-Job Training has the best results of all training programs that are part of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity ActIn 2013, 88 percent of OJT participants were still employed at their training sites or in other jobs three months after having finished the program, and 79 percent were still employed one year later.

On-the-job training programs have already demonstrated success helping the unemployed launch into new careers in New Hampshire, as demonstrated in this video made by New Hampshire Works featuring employers and employees who have used the program.

The bill text can be found here.

Election Bill Creating Poll Tax, Residency Requirements Passes House Election Law Committee

SB179 would penalize New Hampshire voters
rather than improve elections

Concord, NH – Today the House Election Law Committee passed an elections bill along party lines (11-8) that creates unnecessary hurdles for New Hampshire voters by instituting an arbitrary vehicle registration “poll tax” and a 30-day residency requirement. The key features of SB 179, which also passed along party lines in the state Senate earlier this month (14-10), are likely unconstitutional at both the state and federal level.

The House Election Law Committee amended SB 179 to require voters to obtain a driver’s license and register their car in New Hampshire – a change that has no clear connection to maintaining the integrity of elections. New Hampshire’s constitution clearly states that “all elections are to be free,” and this amendment acts as a poll tax by charging engaged Granite Staters vehicle registration fees in order to vote.

Furthermore, SB 179 falls short of meeting the standards set in the United States Supreme Court case Dunn vs. Blumstein, which permitted up to a 30-day registration requirement in states that need it for administrative purposes. Given that New Hampshire is a same-day registration state, there is no compelling argument that the state’s election administration officials need the additional time.

“The sponsors of this legislation claim these restrictions will somehow stop voter fraud, but the proposed changes would penalize New Hampshire voters rather than help our elections,” explained League of Women Voters New Hampshire Election Law Specialist Joan Flood Ashwell. “There are many ways for voters to confirm their identity without forcing them to pay vehicle registration fees, and there are many ways to ensure they live in our state without a 30-day residency requirement. We can’t deny eligible voters the right to vote here in New Hampshire.”

Despite all evidence to the contrary, politicians continue to push restrictive election laws based on a false narrative of ‘phantom’ voters. New Hampshire attorney general investigations and a national Washington Post investigation** found that in-person voter impersonation and registration fraud is virtually non-existent.

America Votes-New Hampshire State Director Paula Hodges said, “SB 179 is one of more than a dozen dangerous bills proposed by radical lawmakers that would deter voters and undermine New Hampshire’s long-held tradition of streamlining voting. The various proposed bills range from eliminating same-day registration, to creating new inter-state cross-check programs that could purge thousands of eligible voters from the rolls. It’s clear these politicians are trying to influence elections by discouraging voters, and that’s wrong.”

“We urge the governor to veto SB 179 should it pass both chambers this year,” Hodges added.

AFT-NH Red Alert: Right To Work Is Back!

YES, THAT IS CORRECT; THE SO CALL RIGHT TO WORK IS BACK! 

The full Senate will be voting on a version of the bill this coming Thursday, April 30th. The Senate Finance Committee recommended ‘Ought to Pass” on HB 658-FN, prohibiting collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join a labor union. This bill comes from Wisconsin and Scott Walker’s play book.  It excludes Police Officers and Firefighters.   I think the statement by Representative Doug Ley sums it all up: “…Furthermore, the decision to carve out exceptions for police officers and firefighters was justified on grounds of the need for unit cohesion. That same logic can apply to any workplace including those where employers and labor organizations agree to allow the union to recover the costs of negotiating for and defending non-union employees. Such interference in the freedom to contract is unacceptable to the minority [Democrats on House Labor Committee].

Over the past two years hundreds of NH citizens voiced opposition to this bill with only a handful of people speaking in support. This attack on working people like you is led by out-of-state interests such as the National Right to Work Committee and ALEC. Don’t let the voice of NH residents to be silenced.

Pass the word to friends and family members. Your Senator needs to hear from you. Simply put, this is a union-busting bill and an attack on our public employees and middle class families.

Please share this with colleagues so they know the seriousness of these attacks. So let’s GET ACTIVE and let these state Senators hear our voices.

Your immediate action will send a strong message to your Senator.

Thank you.

In Solidarity,

Laura Hainey

Federal Protective Service Union Applauds Bill Extending Law Enforcement Retirement to Officers

AFGE Logo 2

Legislation by Rep. Carson also increases number of FPS officers, improves security at federal facilities

WASHINGTON The American Federation of Government Employees today applauded legislation introduced by Rep. André Carson of Indiana that would extend law enforcement retirement coverage to Federal Protective Service officers and make other improvements to the security at federal facilities.

“Yesterday, Americans marked the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, which claimed the lives of 168 people,” said David Wright, president of AFGE Local 918, which represents more than 800 FPS officers. “Today, by introducing vital legislation to reform and expand the one federal agency charged with protecting federal buildings and their occupants, Rep. Carson has taken an important step in preventing a recurrence of this tragedy at another federal building in the U.S.”

Federal Protective Service officers are sworn law enforcement officers who protect federal workers and visitors at 9,000 federal facilities nationwide, yet they do not receive the law enforcement retirement benefits provided to all other law enforcement agents within the Department of Homeland Security.

“FPS officers carry guns, make arrests, perform investigations, and apprehend criminals,” Wright said. “They are law enforcement officers in every sense of the word, and they should be entitled to law enforcement retirement benefits.”

Wright said FPS has suffered from recruitment, retention and morale problems because officers aren’t under the same retirement system as other federal law enforcement officers, including special agents within FPS. Under law enforcement retirement rules, officers are subject to mandatory retirement at age 57 with at least 20 years of service, compared to age 60 with 20 years of service for other federal employees.

Rep. Carson’s bill, HR 1851, would apply only to FPS officers hired after the legislation is enacted.

A separate bill by Rep. Carson, HR 1850, would make a number of other reforms to FPS to security at federal buildings, including:

  • Increase the number of FPS employees to at least 1,870, including at least 1,318 in-service field staff, up from the current floor of 1,400 total employees;
  • Allow FPS to deploy more law enforcement officers in the field by excluding desk-bound managers from the definition of in-service field staff;
  • Clarify that FPS is the law enforcement agency responsible for protecting and policing all civilian, non-atomic federal facilities, not just those owned or controlled by the General Services Administration;
  • Mandate a training compliance tracking system for contracted security guards;
  • Require a report on the feasibility of converting all or part of the protective security officer workforce to federal employees;
  • Clarify the right of FPS officers to carry their firearms while off-duty;
  • Require agencies to install security countermeasures recommended by FPS.

“Security in and around federal buildings has been given short-shrift for too long,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said. “This legislation is long overdue and would provide FPS with the resources it needs to carry out its mission.”


The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 670,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.

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