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Brad Bannon: 4 Reasons Why Democrats Should Support Medicare For All

Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) call for Democrats to campaign on and fight for a national single-payer health insurance program is just the remedy the doctor ordered for her party.

Here are the four reasons for Democrats to push the envelope on health care reform.

Medicare for all is good policy

ObamaCare provided health insurance to nearly 20 million Americanswho didn’t have it, but the law still leaves 26 million out in the cold. If TrumpCare replaces ObamaCare 22 million people will be unprotected by 2026, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Medicare for all means just that. Everybody would be covered.

The only way to lower healthcare costs is to take private insurance companies and their highly paid CEOs out of the equation. Economist Robert Frank recently pointed out in the New York Times that Medicare’s administrative costs are only 2 percent of its total cost.

Administrative costs for private insurance companies are about 6 times higher.

Medicare for all is good politics

Democrats must push aggressively on issues where we have a big advantage. A survey conducted in June by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal indicates that the biggest advantage Democrats have over Republicans is on health care. Americans think Democrats do a better job on healthcare than Republicans by a margin of 43 percent to 26 percent.

President Andrew Johnson once said Washington is 12 square miles surrounded by reality.

The conventional wisdom in the swampland is that Medicare for all is a health hazard for Democrats. But a national survey last month by the Kaiser Family Foundation found American supported the expansion of government run healthcare.

So, what are Democrats afraid of anyway?

A Fight for Medicare for all Demonstrates Democratic Determination

Trump won because he sounded and acted like a bull in a china shop which is what angry voters wanted. In contrast, Democrats walk on eggshells and don’t sound angry enough to shake things up in Washington. A push for universal health insurance is a great way for Democrats to prove that they’re not intimidated by D.C. conventional wisdom and a tough fight.

Leadership means Dems need more than blind opposition to Trump.

Republicans including Trump win with all sorts of push the envelope issue stands. During the campaign last year Trump and most successful GOP candidates pushed for repeal of ACA, even though few voters wanted to destroy Obamacare.

A poll conducted for National Public Radio last month showed that only a quarter of the public favored repeal while everybody else either wanted to fix Obamacare or even extend it.

Taking unpopular stands on issues demonstrates leadership and boldness to Americans who are frustrated with the status quo. The good news for Dems is that Medicare for all is more than twice popular than Trumpcare.

Medicare for all is easy to explain

Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) was chairman of the committee that took the lead in the consideration of President Bill Clinton’s healthcare proposal. When he first saw the plan with more than a thousand pages Clinton submitted to Congress, he told his aide Lawrence O’Donnell that he could reform the healthcare system simply by deleting 3 words “65 and older” from the legislation that created Medicare health plan for seniors.

You can’t sell legislation that you can’t explain.

Medicare for all would be a lot easier to explain to the public than either Clinton’s or Obama’s Affordable Care Act. The Clinton and Obama proposals were incredibly complex. The bill the Clintons sent to Congress in 1993 clocked in more than 1,000 pages. The final version of the Affordable Care Act was 906 pages long.

In the fight for Clintoncare and Obamacare, the devil was in the details. Presidents Clinton and Obama both had a problem building support for health care reform because both proposals were so complex and difficult to explain. The lesson Dems need to take from past health initiatives is the KISS principle, keep it simple, stupid.

None of this will be easy but Dems need to get it done.

Truman proposed a health insurance program for seniors in 1945 and again in 1949. Medicare did not become law until Lyndon Johnson pushed Congress to enact it in 1965. LBJ had a big Democratic majority in Congress. Right now, Democrats are a minority in Congress.

The fierce battles over ObamaCare and Trump demonstrate that any health reform fight will be long, tough and polarizing. So, if Democrats take the time and trouble to fight, they might as well just go for the gold.

A big push for single payer health care insurance would take years but it is an opportunity Democrats can’t afford to miss and a responsibility the party can’t ignore.


Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. Campaigns and Elections magazine called him a mover and shaker in the political consulting industry. He hosts and contributes to the nationally syndicated progressive talk show, “The Leslie Marshall Show.” Bannon is also a political analyst for CLTV, the cable news station of the Chicago Tribune and WGN-TV. He is also a senior adviser to, and editor of, the blog at MyTiller.com. Contact him at brad@bannoncr.com.

Leo W Gerard: Veto The Cold-Hearted Health Care Bill

Donald Trump is right. The House health insurance bill is “mean, mean, mean,” as he put it last week. He correctly called the measure that would strip health insurance from 23 million Americans “a son of a bitch.”

The proposal is not at all what Donald Trump promised Americans. He said that under his administration, no one would lose coverage. He said everybody would be insured. And the insurance he provided would be a “lot less expensive.”

Senate Democrats spent every day this week pointing this out and demanding that Senate Republicans end their furtive, star-chamber scheming and expose their health insurance proposal to public scrutiny. That unveiling is supposed to happen today.

Republicans have kept their plan under wraps because, like the House measure, it is a son of a bitch. Among other serious problems, it would restore caps on coverage so that if a young couple’s baby is born with serious heart problems, as comedian Jimmy Kimmel’s was, they’d be bankrupted and future treatment for the infant jeopardized. Donald Trump has warned Senate Republicans, though. Even if the GOP thinks it was fun to rebuff Democrats’ pleas for a public process, they really should pay attention to the President. He’s got veto power.

Republicans spent the past six years condemning the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which passed in 2010 after Senate Democrats accepted 160 Republican amendments, held 110 bipartisan public hearings and conducted 25 consecutive days of public floor debate. Despite all of that, Republicans contend the ACA is the worst thing since Hitler. That is what they assert about a law that increased the number of insured Americans by 20 million, prohibited discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions and eliminated the annual and lifetime caps that insurers used to cut off coverage for sick infants and people with cancer.

The entire cavalry of Republican candidates for the GOP nomination for President promised to repeal the ACA, but Donald Trump went further. He pledged to replace it with a big league better bill.

In May 2015, he announced on Twitter: “I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid.”

In September 2015, he said of his health insurance plans on CBS News’ 60 Minutes, “I am going to take care of everybody. I don’t care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.”

In another 60 Minutes interview, this one with Lesley Stahl last November, he said, “And it’ll be great health care for much less money. So it’ll be better health care, much better, for less money. Not a bad combination.”

In January, he told the Washington Post, “We’re going to have insurance for everybody.” He explained, “There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us.”

But then, the House Republicans betrayed him. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the measure they passed, called the American Health Care Act (AHCA), would cut more than $800 billion from Medicaid. It said people with pre-existing conditions and some older Americans would face “extremely high premiums.”

Extremely high is an understatement. Here is an example from the CBO report: A 64-year-old with a $26,500 income pays $1,700 for coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but would be forced to cough up more than half of his or her income – $16,000 – for insurance under the House Republican plan. Overall, premiums would increase 20 percent in the first year. And insurers could charge older people five times the rate they bill younger Americans.

House Republicans said states could permit insurers to squirm out of federal minimum coverage requirements, and in states where that occurred, the CBO said some consumers would be hit with thousands of dollars in increased costs for maternity care, mental health treatment and substance abuse services.

In the first year, the House GOP plan would rob insurance from 14 million Americans.

So much for covering everyone with “great health care at much less money.”

It’s true that President Trump held a party for House Republicans in the Rose Garden after they narrowly passed their bill. But it seems like he did not become aware until later just how horrific the measure is, how signing it into law would make him look like a rank politician, a swamp dweller who spouts promises he has no intention of keeping.

By last week when President Trump met with 15 Senate Republicans about their efforts to pass a health insurance bill, he no longer was reveling in the House measure. He called it “cold-hearted.”  He asked the senators to be more “generous,” to put “additional money” into their version.

Senators told reporters that President Trump wanted them to pass a bill that is not viewed as an attack on low-income Americans and provides larger tax credits to enable people to buy insurance.

Now that sounds a little more like the Donald Trump who repeatedly promised his health insurance replacement bill would cover everyone at a lower cost. Still, those goals remain amorphous.

The House bill is stunningly unpopular, almost as detested as Congress itself. President Trump seems to grasp the enormity of that problem. But even his calling it a “son of a bitch” doesn’t seem to have been enough to persuade senators that he’s serious about getting legislation that achieves his promises to leave Medicaid intact, cover everyone and lower costs.

Republican senators deciding the fate of millions of Americans must hear from Donald Trump that passing a health insurance bill that doesn’t fulfill his campaign promises is, shall we say, a cancer on the Presidency.

A veto threat would get their attention.

Even if the GOP thinks it was fun to rebuff Democrats’ pleas for a public process, they really should pay attention to the President who called the House health insurance bill “a son of a bitch.” After all, he’s got veto power.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senator Hassan Joins Prominent Doctor Organizations to Speak Out Against Trumpcare

WASHINGTON – Today, Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) joined doctors from the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, Americans College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, American College of Physicians, American Psychiatric Association, and the American Osteopathic Association, to speak out against the dangerous Trumpcare proposal in the Senate, which would harm millions of Americans.

“The reason there are so many physicians here from so many different specialties is because these doctors know firsthand that Trumpcare is bad for America’s health,” said Senator Hassan. “The decision to delay the Senate vote does not change the fact that under Trumpcare, Americans would pay more for worse health coverage, and it’s all in order to give billions of dollars in tax breaks to corporate special interests – including Big Pharma – at the expense of hard-working Americans and the programs they rely on.”

Senator Hassan highlighted how Trumpcare would make things worse for most Americans, regardless of whether they get insurance through an employer, buy it individually, or have Medicaid. The Senator also emphasized how Trumpcare ends Medicaid expansion and makes massive cuts to the Medicaid program, threatening efforts to combat the heroin, fentanyl, and opioid crisis, as well as the health and well-being of children, pregnant women, seniors who require home care or nursing home care, and Granite Staters who experience disabilities.

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

Image by Gage Skidmore FLIKR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Male Senators Are Deciding Women’s Healthcare Behind Closed Doors

On Senate Floor, Senator Hassan Says “Trumpcare is a Disaster for Women”

Senator Shaheen Takes To The Senate Floor Calling On Republicans To Work With Democrats To Improve The ACA

WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Maggie Hassan delivered remarks on the Senate floor, highlighting that “Trumpcare is a disaster for women” in New Hampshire and across America. Senator Hassan also noted how Senate Republicans are working on the Trumpcare proposal behind closed doors – without any women Senators.

“To compete economically – on a level playing field – women must be able to make their own health care decisions,” said Senator Hassan. “They shouldn’t have to pay more than men do for their health care. They should be able to visit providers of their own choice who understand and have expertise in the woman’s health care needs. The health insurance that is available to women should be equal to that of their male colleagues – that means it should cover their basic health care needs. And to fully participate not only in our economy, but also in our democracy, women have to be recognized for their capacity to make their own health care decisions – just as men are.”

Senator Hassan highlighted the story of Carla from Newfields, New Hampshire, who depends on Planned Parenthood for birth control to treat her ovarian cysts. Senator Hassan described how Trumpcare would completely defund Planned Parenthood, leaving Carla and millions of women across the country without essential health care.

“Defunding Planned Parenthood would leave many women in the Granite State and throughout the country without access to care – plain and simple,” Senator Hassanstated. “There just aren’t enough other providers – as I heard from medical providers throughout my state when I was Governor there – to absorb all of the patients that Planned Parenthood cares for now.”

Senator Hassan also stressed how under Trumpcare, for a mother, giving birth could be considered a pre-existing condition, giving insurance companies the ability to charge them more. Additionally, Trumpcare would increase the cost to women for maternity care in other ways, including undermining the Essential Health Benefits.

“The Congressional Budget Office says that the House-passed Trumpcare bill would increase out-of-pocket spending for maternity care for women… by thousands of dollars per year,” Senator Hassan explained.

“Any cut to Medicaid would disproportionately affect Granite State women – as 62 percent of Medicaid recipients in New Hampshire are women,” Senator Hassan added.

Senator Hassan concluded her remarks urging all Granite Staters and Americans to continue speaking about how Trumpcare would impact their lives.

“It is critical that people in New Hampshire and across our nation continue to speak out and share their stories about how Trumpcare would impact their lives,” Senator Hassan concluded. “And I am going to continue to work with my colleagues to defeat this bill.”

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) also spoke on the Senate floor in opposition to President Trump and the Republican leadership’s healthcare repeal bill and the devastating impact it would have on women’s healthcare. “The Republican bill would take us back to the days before the Affordable Care Act, when insurers could charge women more just for being women, with no other reason needed,” Shaheen said. “It would take away the federal protection against discrimination based on pre-existing conditions. Bear in mind that many of these ‘conditions’ apply mostly or exclusively to women.”

Shaheen went on to read stories from Maura Fay of Exeter and Samantha Fox of Bow, both of whom wrote to Sen. Shaheen about why the Affordable Care Act is vital to protecting their health.

Shaheen urged her Senate colleagues to “put ideology and partisanship aside. Let’s work together to strengthen elements of the Affordable Care Act that are working in the real world, including Medicaid expansion, and fix what’s not working.  This is what the great majority of the American people what us to do.  It’s time, now, to respect their wishes.”

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

 

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

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

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

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

The Individual Health Insurance Marketplace Improvement Act would:

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

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

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

Mark Fernald: Trumpcare Hurts The Granite State

What Trumpcare Means for New Hampshire:  Thousands lose their health insurance, hospitals take a financial hit, and the wealthy get a tax cut.

The Congressional Budget Office has now officially ‘scored’ Trumpcare and has estimated that 23 million will lose their health insurance.

Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act has made it possible for nearly 50,000 citizens of New Hampshire to get health insurance. The vast majority of these newly insured are the working poor.  Their employers offer no health insurance, and they could not afford health insurance on the private market.  People making $18,000 a year could not afford a $6,000 health insurance policy before the Affordable Care Act.

If the Republican healthcare plan becomes law, nearly all of the newly insured will lose their coverage.

The expansion of Medicaid in New Hampshire has brought over $100 million per year into New Hampshire.  That new money has flowed to the bottom line of our healthcare providers, primarily our hospitals, which bear huge burdens providing free care for people without health insurance.  One study concluded that Medicaid expansion has cut the cost of uncompensated care over 40% in those states that expanded Medicaid.

Under Trumpcare, New Hampshire healthcare providers would lose hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade, jeopardizing the financial health of some of our hospitals.

At the heart of Trumpcare is a big tax cut for the wealthy.  The Affordable Care Act included the Net Investment Income Tax, a new 3.8% tax on unearned income (such as interest, dividends, and capital gains) received by couples with incomes over $250,000 a year.  Trumpcare would repeal this tax.

The Net Investment Income Tax corrected a flaw in the original financing of Medicare:  the system is funded by a payroll tax on the wages of working Americans, rather than by a tax on the incomes of all Americans.  Part of our paychecks supported Medicare, but dividends, interest, and capital gains did not.

The importance of this flaw cannot be overstated.  Medicare is a program that benefits Americans who reach the age of 65.  It makes sense to pay for it the way we pay for the rest of the federal government—based on our incomes, not just on our W-2 earnings.

(Social Security is different.  It is paid for with a payroll tax, and the benefits you receive depend upon how much you pay in.  With Medicare, your benefits are not based on the Medicare taxes you have paid.)

Warren Bufffet is paid a modest salary by his company. The vast majority of his income is dividends and capital gains that are not subject to the Medicare payroll tax.  Year after year, before the Affordable Care Act, Warren Buffett paid less in Medicare tax than many wage-earning Americans.

To his credit, Warren Buffet has spoken out against Trumpcare as a tax cut for people like him who do not need it.  According to Buffett, repealing the Affordable Care Act—and the Net Investment Income Tax—would have saved him about $680,000 in 2016.

Repealing the Net Investment Income Tax will cost the federal government about $60 billion a year.  Trumpcare offsets that revenue loss with huge cuts to healthcare spending.  Medicaid expansion would be phased out, while health insurance subsidies for the working poor would be eliminated.

Here in New Hampshire, if Trumpcare becomes law, the health of tens of thousands of our fellow citizens will decline as they lose their health insurance.  The financial health of our hospitals will also decline, as the number of uninsured people increases.

Republicans have spent years railing against “Obama tax hikes” without mentioning that the target of their wrath is a tax that corrected one of the great inequities in our tax system.  The health of millions will be harmed to benefit the wealthy few.

The Republican plan is now in the Senate, where it is being revised in secret. Most senators pay the Net Investment Income Tax, as they have large stock portfolios, and family incomes over $250,000.  We will see which senators vote to give themselves a tax cut—while taking health insurance away from millions—and which senators will vote against a personal tax cut and for affordable healthcare.

Mark Fernald is a former State Senator and was the 2002 Democratic nominee for Governor.  He can be reached at mark@markfernald.com.

Senator Hassan Joins Effort To Improve The Affordable Care Act And Lower Costs To Granite Staters

Legislation Improves Affordable Care Act &
Would Help Lower Costs for Older Granite Staters
 

WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Kamala Harris (D-CA) in introducing a bill to help make health care coverage more affordable for hard-working, middle class Granite Staters.

The common-sense legislation helps improve the Affordable Care Act by eliminating the cliff that currently blocks many middle-class individuals and families from receiving financial help to purchase insurance through the marketplace.

“We need to work together to strengthen the Affordable Care Act and bring health care costs down for hard-working people,” said Senator Maggie Hassan. “This bill is a common-sense step that will help to bring down the cost of premiums for middle class Granite Staters on the exchange, allowing more people to access affordable coverage and making our people and our communities stronger.”

Under current law, individuals and families making just one dollar more than 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($47,520 for an individual, $80,640 for a family of three) receive no financial assistance in purchasing health insurance in the marketplace. This sharp cut-off contributes to affordability issues in individual markets nationwide.

This legislation would make it so no individual or family in New Hampshire would pay more than 9.69 percent of their monthly income toward health insurance premiums. Currently, 9.69 percent of monthly income is the maximum contribution households are required to make toward their health plan if they make between 300 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level.

“While President Trump and Congressional Republicans seek to take away health care from 23 million Americans, real health care champions like Senator Maggie Hassan are seeking ways to strengthen the Affordable Care Act and make coverage more affordable for Granite State families,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “We need more elected officials like Sen. Hassan seeking solutions instead of the politicians promoting a failed Trumpcare 2.0 agenda that targets those with pre-existing conditions and puts at risk coverage for our families and small businesses.”

“We thank Senator Hassan for her work to ensure all Americans have access to the quality, affordable health care coverage they need to be healthy and economically secure,” Rice-Hawkins added.

The senators’ proposal would be particularly beneficial to individuals aged 50 to 64, given that plans are more expensive for older individuals.

At Coos County Nursing Hospital, Senator Hassan Highlights Importance of Protecting Medicaid For Seniors


Senator Hassan greeted Granite Staters at Coos County Nursing Hospital.

WEST STEWARTSTOWN – Today, Senator Maggie Hassan visited the Coos County Nursing Hospital, touring the facility and highlighting the importance of preventing the devastating cuts to Medicaid included in Trumpcare and the President’s budget proposal. Medicaid is the primary payer of long-term services and supports, which includes nursing home services. Thousands of Granite Staters in nursing homes rely on Medicaid for nursing home services.

“Nursing homes like Coos County Nursing Hospital help ensure that our seniors have the care and support they need, and the majority of funding for such nursing homes comes from Medicaid,” Senator Hassan said.

“Unfortunately, through Trumpcare and a senseless budget proposal, the Trump Administration is focused on slashing Medicaid in order to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy while threatening the health and well-being of thousands of seniors in the Granite State and across the nation,” added Senator Hassan. “I will continue standing up against these dangerous cuts to Medicaid that would pull us backward, and fight to ensure that all of our older citizens have the support necessary to remain active in our society.”

​Trumpcare would cut more than $800 million in 10 years and the Trump budget would make another $610 million in cuts. These cuts would force states to make dramatic reductions in who they serve and what services they cover, threatening health care for millions, including the care our nation’s seniors receive in nursing homes.

In New Hampshire, close to 64% of nursing home patients rely on Medicaid for their care. The American Health Care Act, also known as Trumpcare, cuts and caps Medicaid, slashing $834 billion from the program over the next decade. On top of that, President Trump’s budget proposal includes cutting an additional $610 billion in Medicaid funding.

As a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Senator Hassan is focused on strengthening the health and well-being of older citizens in New Hampshire, including cosponsoring legislation to lower the cost of prescription drugs for seniors.

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