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Senator Hassan Presses Congressman Price on Harmful Impact of Repealing the Affordable Care Act

Price Also Refuses To Directly Answer On His Vote Against Measure to Protect Women From Being Fired or Penalized Because Of Their Reproductive Health Care Decisions

WASHINGTON – In today’s confirmation hearing for Congressman Tom Price, President-elect Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Senator Hassan repeatedly pressed Rep. Price on the harmful impact that repealing the Affordable Care Act would have on efforts to combat the substance abuse crisis.

Senator Hassan cited the story of a constituent named Ashley whom she met last week. Ashley is now in recovery from heroin addiction after she was able to get substance abuse treatment because of New Hampshire’s bipartisan Medicaid expansion plan. Under questioning from Senator Hassan, Rep. Price would not guarantee that Americans with substance use disorders who have gotten insurance through Medicaid expansion, just like Ashley did, would still be covered for these services if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.

Rep. Price also would not commit to continuing the requirement under the Affordable Care Act that health insurance companies must cover essential health benefits, including treatment for substance abuse. When speaking of the importance of requiring essential benefits such as primary care and substance abuse treatment, Senator Hassan said, “if insurance companies never offer it, [people] don’t have the option. They can pay good premium dollars, but it’s just not offered. And the Affordable Care Act said to the insurance industry, here are some basic things you have got to offer so that when a patient needs care, the coverage is there and they can get the care. And your answer and the Empowering Patients [First] Act would take that assurance away. It’s not an option if insurance doesn’t cover it.”

Senator Hassan also pressed Rep. Price on his record when it comes to women’s health. Rep. Price refused to directly answer on his vote to disapprove Washington, D.C.’s non-discrimination law, the Reproductive Health Non-discrimination Act, which protects women in Washington from being fired or penalized because of their reproductive health decisions. Despite Rep. Price’s statements to the contrary, his vote would have had the effect of allowing an employer to fire a woman for using birth control, being pregnant and unmarried, or for other decisions she makes about her own body and reproductive health.

NH Senate Flip-Flops On Voter ID Provisions. Advocate Spending $1 Million Dollars After Slashing HHS Budgets

Senate Republicans change position on expensive camera provision at the polls, whether student identification cards are an acceptable form of Voter ID 

Advocate to spend $1 million dollars on Voter ID law same week they drastically cut services for elderly and disabled, mental health community in New Hampshire  

CONCORD, NH – Senate Republican leaders are flip-flopping on key provisions of the Voter ID fix bill up for a Senate floor vote this week, advocating for measures they disapproved of last session and opposing provisions they supported.

The New Hampshire State Senate will vote on HB 595 as amended by the Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee on Thursday, May 23rd. The Senate amendment does not allow student identification cards or county and municipal identification cards to be used as acceptable forms of voter ID to obtain a ballot. In 2011 Senator Russell Prescott (R – Kingston) – who was the prime sponsor of the Voter ID law last session – testified in front of the House Election Law Committee that student identification cards should be included in the list of acceptable ID’s under the Voter ID law. He also testified that the Senate opposed wasting taxpayer dollars on the costly camera provision which requires colored photographs to be taken of individuals without acceptable forms of photo identification; this along with other phase II provisions of the Voter ID law are anticipated to cost the state nearly $1 million dollars over the next four years.

America Votes and Granite State Progress call on the Senate to not flip-flop on Voter ID provisions, and to instead prioritize Granite State families over costly Voter ID laws.

“It is unconscionable that the Senate would reverse their position and support one of the most restrictive ID laws in the country in order to target voters, specifically students, from exercising their right to vote,” said America Votes State Director Jessica Clark. “Even House Republicans agreed during recent committee meetings that we should not further restrict the forms of identification used during the last election, and not one person spoke in opposition.”

“Senate Republicans are fighting for an unnecessary law that will cost our state one million dollars in the short term alone, the same week they are drastically cutting essential health services for the elderly and disabled,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “Senate Republican leaders have misplaced priorities. They should be working to help Granite Staters instead of attacking voting rights in our state.”

GSP Video: State Senator Russell Prescott on Voter ID: Student ID’s Acceptable (http://youtu.be/CHzKHXg3gZY)

“On the topic of, do we in general, accept student identification? And that should be yes, we should.”

GSP Video: State Senator Russell Prescott on Voter ID: Student ID’s Acceptable (http://youtu.be/J2kpbchE2O4)

 “The Senate position believes that if a person fills out a challenged voter affidavit, they are taking a large responsibility upon telling the truth and there really is no need to accept the funds.”

Sen. Prescott testified before the NH House Election Law Committee, April 10, 2012. The Senate must pass legislation that alters the New Hampshire Voter ID law this session or only four types of ID will be accepted to obtain a ballot starting September 2013. Individuals without an acceptable form of Voter ID will be required to have a color photo taken by a poll worker.


**ICYMI: Nashua Telegraph today also reports:  “Young Democrats, Republicans align to ask for change to voter ID”

**NHLN post on college students opposing new voter ID changes include a letter from the NH Young Republicans and NH Young Democrats.

To Address NH’s Mental Health Problems, We Must Increase Funding To Mental Health Care

As we grieve with the families of Newtown, Connecticut, we should take a moment to reflect on the condition of New Hampshire’s mental health system.

“Mental health care in New Hampshire has become a game of musical chairs.  Budgets are tighter, meaning fewer treatment beds. And patient numbers keep rising, meaning more people left without treatment.  The wait for a bed at NH Hospital, the state’s only psychiatric hospital, is often days, and those waiting stay in windowless emergency rooms occasionally requiring security if the patients get agitated. It is not uncommon for a dozen people to wait at Concord Hospital on a weekend hoping a bed at NH Hospital will open.”  Read the full Business NH article here.

According to a 2011 Dartmouth College Policy Brief,

Over the past decade, the demand for mental health services in New Hampshire has greatly increased while the system has been affected by numerous budget cuts. This has led to reduced or closed programs, staff shortages, layoffs, and extended waiting lists. In addition to direct impacts on the mental health system, the budget cuts have also led to an increased usage in other areas such as correctional facilities, the judiciary system, and emergency rooms.

And that was written before the latest budget cycle – which, among other cuts, sharply reduced the CHINS (Children in Need of Services) program.

[mantra-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”right” width=”33%”]“A certain, probably substantial percentage of these kids — their behavior is going to get worse if they don’t get help,” Lightfoot said [/mantra-pullquote]

The nearly 1,000 children in a given year — 400 to 500 at any given time — who have traditionally been served through CHINS would be reduced to about 50.  “A certain, probably substantial percentage of these kids — their behavior is going to get worse if they don’t get help,” [Jack] Lightfoot said. “When they don’t get help for whatever issue, they become more likely to become a more serious criminal. I think we have to be very careful about that.”

Read the full Fosters article here.

One week ago, the state Department of Health and Human Services announced it would soon reopen a dozen beds at NH Hospital, and would seek additional mental health funding in the next budget cycle.  NH Hospital has closed three units with 60 beds since 2009. Read the full Union Leader story here.


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