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Senators Shaheen and Hassan Speak Out Against Latest ACA Repeal Bill

Republicans in the U.S. Senate are doing their best to rip healthcare away from millions of working families and put insurance companies back in control of your healthcare where they can deny care, charge more to women, and drop coverage when you get sick.

The Graham-Cassidy bill is just the latest attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act and the Republicans are moving quickly to pass it.  The Republicans are using legislative tricks to force this bill through but those tricks have a time limit too. They must get their bill passed by September 30th or they will not have enough votes to pass it.

The bill has not had any hearings and has not been scored by the Congressional Budget Office to see what the impact of this legislation would be to working families and our national debt.  Current estimates from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities show that the Graham-Cassidy bill would kick 32 million Americans off their healthcare.

The bill hits working families the hardest by eliminated subsidies to purchase healthcare from the “Exchange” and completely eliminates the funding for Medicaid Expansion programs.  The $229 billion dollar cuts to the Medicaid Expansion program would strip healthcare from 11 million Americans alone.

New Hampshire’s senior Senator, Jeanne Shaheen, spoke with CNN yesterday about the devastating cuts facing New Hampshire families if this bill goes through. She highlighted the $410 million in federal funding that New Hampshire would lose forcing 30,000 hard-working Granite Staters off their healthcare.

Senator Maggie Hassan, the former Governor of New Hampshire, who worked with both parties to expand Medicaid and help 50,000 NH families get coverage, took to the Senate floor to speak out against the disastrous legislation.

Speaking on the Graham-Cassidy bill, Senator Hassan said the bill is “every bit as dangerous as the Trumpcare plans we saw this summer – if not worse.’

We must not let the Republicans take us back to when greedy insurance companies do whatever they want. Denying care when you get sick, charging more for women than men, and denying coverage because of a “pre-existing conditions.”

We all know the Affordable Care Act is not perfect, but we need to build on it, not destroy it.  We need to keep what is right and fix what is wrong.

Please take a moment to call your Senator and tell them to oppose this disastrous piece of legislation. Pick up the phone and dial, (202) 224-3121 to be connected to the Senate switchboard.

If your Senator has already come out against the Graham-Cassidy bill, call them and thank them for standing up for working families and let them know you support their decision.

It is vitally important that people from Maine, Ohio, Alaska and Arizona make calls to their Senators.  Sen Collins from Maine, Senator McCain of Arizona, and Senator Murkowski of Alaska all voted against the previous attempts to repeal the ACA and are said to be “on the fence” about the Graham-Cassidy bill.  Call them. Thank them for voting against the repeal efforts before and tell them to vote “No” on the Graham-Cassidy bill. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities research shows how much each state will lose under this new plan.

Millions of hard-working Americans will lose access to care and people will die because insurance companies will be allowed to deny care to people with pre-existing conditions.

Call your Senator now, (202) 224-3121.

GOP Pushes A New Repeal Plan

Here we go again!

Once again the Republicans in the U.S. Senate are working to strip healthcare from millions of working families by pushing yet another “Obamacare” repeal.

The newest bill, put forth by Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy, would repeal the Affordable Care Act, decimating the Medicaid expansion program, leaving and estimated 32 million people without healthcare.

Overall the right-wing plan would cut $229 billion dollars eliminating the healthcare exchange subsidies and the funding allotted for the expansion of Medicaid.

The Graham-Cassidy bill would offer states “block grants” to offset the cost of providing healthcare to low-income families. Funding for these grants would continue to decrease over the next decade until they completely dry up in 2027.

According to research from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, by 2020 the Graham-Cassidy block grants would be sending $39 billion less to states than the current law would. CBPP estimates the Graham-Cassidy bill would slash $179 billion from healthcare funding by 2026.

Andy Slavitt, President Obama’s former director of Medicare, sent out this image, highlighting the massive cuts if the Graham-Cassidy bill goes through.

In a September 8th editorial board meeting with Seacoast Online, Governor Chris Sununu said he was “very excited” about the newest Graham-Cassidy Trumpcare bill that he claims to have helped create with Republican governors across the country. Sununu had high praise for the legislation saying it “really takes into account a lot of the things that governors are looking for.” (Sununu now says he opposed the bill. See update below) 

However, Republican Governor Charlie Baker of neighboring Massachusetts said the bill would “dramatically negatively affect the Commonwealth.”

“Sununu brags about creating this Graham-Cassidy Trumpcare bill when he should be apologizing for it. Granite Staters will see premiums skyrocket and Medicaid beneficiaries lose coverage because of Governor Sununu,” said Ray Buckley, Chair of the NH Democratic Party. “This legislation would do enormous damage to Granite Staters’ health and economic well-being, and the Governor should immediately rescind his support.”

Senator Hassan tweeted her opposition to the bill by calling on everyone to contact their Senator’s office and tell them to oppose this bill.

“We must take #GrahamCassidy health care repeal bill seriously and speak out NOW. We cannot let this pass.”

The Graham-Cassidy bill would also remove the subsides that allows, low-to-moderate income families to purchase healthcare through the healthcare exchange. All in all more than 30,000 Granite Staters will be denied access to affordable healthcare.

The good news is that right now the Republicans do not have enough votes to pass “RepublicanCare 3.0”. The bad news is that Senator John McCain is indicating he may support this bill despite being the deciding vote against the Senate’s previous repeal effort.

CPPB estimates that Arizonans stands to lose $1.6 billion in federal funding by 2026 and 78,000 would lose the coverage they have gained through the Affordable Care act.

If McCain votes with his party, and Senators Collins and Murkowski vote against it as they did last time, we could end up in a 50-50 tie. For us, a tie is a loss as Vice President Pence would be the tie-breaker as he did with the DeVos’s confirmation.

We must take action now. We must inform our Senators that this bill will harm real working families like yours and mine. We must tell them to oppose this harmful legislation.

Pick up the phone and dial, (202) 224-3121 to be connected to the Senate switchboard. In case you need it, Indivisible posted a sample call script for citizens to use when calling your Senators office.

Republicans in the Senate have till the end of September to get this passed, so they are working hard and fast.  We must stop them now, before they steal healthcare from 30 million people.


UPDATE 7PM 9-18

Governor Chris Sununu comes out against the bill he claims to have help craft.

Governor Sununu’s statement:

“While I continue to strongly believe that Obamacare must be reformed, it must be replaced with something that works for New Hampshire. The Graham-Cassidy healthcare plan has some laudable aspects, including offering more flexibility to states in managing Medicaid. Unfortunately, under this plan, New Hampshire could possibly lose over a $1 billion in Medicaid funding between 2020-2026. While innovative, consumer-driven programs that eliminate waste and provide flexibility is the direction our nation’s health care must go, it is not practical for New Hampshire to craft a system with over $1 billion in cuts to federal funding. New Hampshire is proud of its tradition of not having an income tax or sales tax and remains vigilant against down-shifting of costs onto states that become general fund liabilities. As such, I cannot support this plan as it is currently drafted. It is my hope that Congress will continue to improve this plan to earn New Hampshire’s support. If given the opportunity, we stand ready to roll up our sleeves and craft a fiscally responsible system that works for all Granite Staters and does not ask us to subsidize the health care costs of other states.”

In reaction to Sununu’s flip-flop, NHDP Chair Ray Buckley issued the following statement:

“Just a week after bragging about his role in creating the Graham-Cassidy health care repeal bill, calling it ‘very exciting’ and saying he’s ‘hoping it actively gets proposed,’ Sununu has seen enough bad press on the bill to pull back his support. Graham-Cassidy would of course ravage the benefits so many Granite Staters depend on, including slashing Medicaid by half a billion dollars in the state and ending Medicaid expansion in the middle of the opioid crisis. Today, Sununu reaffirmed what we already knew: that he is spineless and has no qualms with completely reversing positions on a dime depending on what benefits him politically. He is fighting for himself, not for New Hampshire.”

Workers Fail To See Gains As Healthcare Sector Grows

Washington, DC ― The healthcare sector is one of the most important sources of jobs in the economy. Healthcare spending reached $3.2 trillion in 2015, or 17.8 percent of GDP, and accounted for 12.8 percent of private sector jobs. It was also the only industry that consistently added jobs during the Great Recession, and grew 20 percent between 2005 and 2015. Despite this growth, wages have either declined or been stagnant over the past decade for healthcare workers in hospitals and outpatient centers.

new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation with additional funding provided by the Nathan Cummings Foundation, describes the changing patterns of jobs and wages for healthcare workers, specifically in hospitals and outpatient clinics over the decade from 2005 to 2015. The healthcare sector has become more demographically diverse over the decade, but as jobs shift from hospitals to outpatient centers, wages are declining or stagnating, and inequality is increasing. (See healthcareworkers.us for more info and related blog posts.)

The report, “Organizational Restructuring in U.S. Healthcare Systems: Implications for Jobs, Wages, and Inequality,” provides a detailed breakdown of which groups of workers are experiencing stagnant or declining wages. For instance, the report finds that employment in outpatient centers has grown six times the rate of hospitals, but the only demographic group in these facilities to see wage gains is white men ― and these are modest. Some other highlights include:

  • Job growth in outpatient facilities was disproportionately high for black workers (65 percent growth rate), Hispanic workers (103 percent), and Asian/others (82 percent), and within these groups, women’s job growth outpaced that of men.
  • Overall median real hourly wages rose very modestly in hospitals, increasing by 75 cents over the decade from $23.79 to $24.54. This was an increase of 3.2 percent over the decade, or less than a third of a percent a year on average.
  • The findings in this report show that the unraveling of hospital-based employment systems is associated with greater wage inequality. Wages have declined over the decade in outpatient care facilities, with notable declines in the pay of black men employed as medical technicians or as health aides and assistants.  In hospitals, the rise in real wages among healthcare professionals and the modest fall in wages for non-professional groups suggest that inequality has increased within hospital settings.

Eileen Appelbaum, co-author of the report and Senior Economist at CEPR, stated: “Declining real wages in outpatient services cannot be explained by factors that often influence wage determination: educational level, age, or the share of workers who are part-time or foreign-born. Educational attainment rose for virtually every occupational group ― in some cases, substantially ― and is higher in outpatient care centers than in hospitals.”

Rosemary Batt, co-author and Cornell University professor, points to institutional explanations such as changes in union density. “While union density increased among professional employees between 2005 and 2015, union density has fallen among non-professional employees, particularly in outpatient settings. This may have contributed to the decline in median real wages for these workers.”

For more on the report’s findings, including blog posts and related materials, see healthcareworkers.us.

Kuster Talks Healthcare at Lamprey Health Center in Nashua

(Nashua, NH) – Today Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) joined healthcare leaders and local residents to discuss her plan to improve the Affordable Care Act and increase access to quality health care at Lamprey Health Center in Nashua. The visit comes as Congress begins to look at solutions to improve the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Kuster has been vocal about the need for Congressional Republicans to abandon their single-minded focus on repealing the ACA and instead work across the aisle to make meaningful reforms. Earlier this year, Kuster helped unveil a five-part plan to improve upon the Affordable Care Act and stabilize the individual marketplace.

  • Protect Plans for People with Pre-Existing Conditions
  • Keep Costs Down for Lower Income Families
  • Promote Enrollment and Ensure People Pay their Fair Share
  • Creating More Affordable Options
  • Technical Changes and Improvements

Read more about Kuster’s new plan here.

“The Affordable Care Act has made important progress in expanding access to healthcare and ensuring protections for tens of thousands of Granite Staters and millions of Americans,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “We need to defend the ACA from attempts to roll back critical protections for people with preexisting conditions and for those who have been able to access health insurance for the first time. But we also need to recognize the law is not perfect. I’ve put forward commonsense proposals to stabilize the individual market and contain costs. The perspectives of the people here at Lamprey Health Center are so critical for informing how we address these issues in Washington. In conversations with my Republican colleagues, I know there is much common ground and I look forward to working across the aisle to improve the ACA for all Granite Staters.”

“Lamprey Health Care has always been proud of our ability to care for all patients regardless of ability to pay,” said Greg White, of Lamprey Health Center. “Since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and Expanded Medicaid, we have seen a tremendous reduction in our numbers of uninsured patients.  This law has opened up things beyond our walls such as specialty care, diagnostics, and medications.  We are thrilled that Congresswoman Kuster came here to Lamprey during Community Health Week to talk about these critical issues, and we are grateful for her work to improve this law and expand access to care.”

“Southern New Hampshire Health has worked hard to be a good steward of the community,” said Dr. Wolf-Rosenblum. “Anything that can be done to preserve the individual market allows resources to be deployed towards prevention rather than rescue. This enables us to reach more people and keep them healthier. We truly appreciate Congresswoman Kuster coming to Nashua and sharing the work she is doing to stabilize the individual market and improve our system of care.”

40% Increase In Premiums Highlight Need For A Better Healthcare System

Below is the press release from the NH Department of Insurance explain the massive spike in healthcare premiums, specifically on those who get insurance through the ACA marketplace.  Below that is my opinion on what we can do to fix this problem. 


Federal Government Announces 2018 Rate Increases

CONCORD, NH – NH Department Of Insurance Press Release  The federal government today published information on proposed rate increases for New Hampshire’s health insurance exchange in 2018, showing that consumers in the individual market may face increases of more than forty percent.

“Today’s news about rates is alarming, especially for the 94,000 New Hampshire residents who obtain their insurance through the individual market, but unfortunately, it does not come as a surprise,” said Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny. “A number of factors have led to rate increases for 2018 in New Hampshire and across the country, most notably the continued uncertainty at the federal level. My staff and I have been actively engaged to identify options to lessen the impact on the thousands of families who rely on health insurance through the state exchange.”

The 2018 rate information released today by the federal government details proposed increases to benefit plans that are submitted by insurance companies operating on the exchange.  (The New Hampshire Insurance Department is prohibited by law from releasing rate information until Nov. 1.)  A benefit plan is a specific plan that a New Hampshire resident would select for enrollment, such as a bronze, silver, or gold level metal plan.

Three companies have announced their intentions to offer plans on the 2018 exchange in New Hampshire: Ambetter, Anthem, and Harvard Pilgrim. A fourth, Minuteman Health, also has proposed rate increases listed on the federal site, but those plans will not be available to consumers, as the company announced in June that it would stop offering plans in 2018.

The information published today by the federal government shows that some of the state’s insurers have submitted benefit plans for the individual market with substantial increases. The New Hampshire Insurance Department looks at premiums each year from a market-wide perspective, comparing the median premium for a silver-level plan covering a 40-year-old non-tobacco-user.  For 2017, the median premium at this level was $335; the median premium at this level for 2018 would be $479, based on the carriers’ initially proposed rates.  If these rates are ultimately approved, this would represent a 43% increase between next year’s and this year’s median premium in the individual market.

Today, the Department issued guidance permitting insurers to assume the federal government will not be funding Cost Sharing Reductions (CSRs) in 2018.  In response, insurers might adjust silver level plan rates before the deadline for amending rate filings.

The New Hampshire Insurance Department has taken action in recent months to call policymakers’ and consumers’ attention to the impending rate increases and the possibility that companies might withdraw from the exchange in 2018. In June, the Legislature authorized the Department to create a market stabilization plan, and last month, the Department publicly shared its plan to reduce rates and promote stability in the individual market in 2018. Today, the Joint Health Care Reform Oversight Committee authorized the Insurance Department to pursue federal waivers in support of a market stabilization plan, but without relying on an assessment of health insurance carriers.


A completely new healthcare system for all Americans

The above press release from the NH Department of Insurance shows that our current system of private insurance is unsustainable.  A 40% increase in one year. Seriously WTF?  What we do not even know yet is how much out of pocket costs will also increase next year.  Out of pocket expenses include co-pays, co-insurance deductibles, and prescription costs.  These can cost people thousands of dollars on top of their thousands of dollars in premiums.

There is no doubt that Republicans are going to blame Democrats and President Obama for this increase while Democrats will blame Republicans for failing pass meaningful changes to the ACA to stabilize the marketplace.

But while I blame both of them for failing to do what is best for America, the majority of the blame falls directly on the private insurance corporations.  They are raking in obscene profits, continually increasing premiums to maximize their profits.  Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield reported $1 Billion in profits during the first quarter of 2016. That is a 44% increase in profits.

The corporations are shelling out hundreds of millions to lobbyists and politicians to prevent them from passing meaningful legislation that would help solve our problems.  For example, Congress has failed to pass legislation allowing medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices, which other countries do, saving them billions annually.  In 2016, the health products, insurance and pharmaceuticals industries spent a combined $400 million on their lobbying efforts.

Are you still surprised that Congress cannot pass meaningful healthcare reform?

This 40% increase combined with the insurance companies record breaking profits last year make it glaringly obvious that we need to move to a single payer system.  With a less than 2% overhead, Medicare is one of the most efficient programs in the government. With additional changes, like allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, the cost of healthcare would drop dramatically.

It is time for America to move to a national universal healthcare system. It is time for Medicare For All.

NH Senate Republicans Vote Down Proposal To Lower Insurance Premiums Statewide

The Reinsurance Program would allow the NH Department of Insurance to seek additional federal funds to stabilize the insurance marketplace.

Today, Governor Sununu and New Hampshire Republicans failed to fund the NH Insurance Department’s reinsurance proposal that would protect the benefits of tens of thousands of Granite Staters. The Joint Health Care Reform Oversight Committee moved forward with a proposal from the NH Insurance Department to create a reinsurance program, but failed to authorize any way to pay for it.

“Governor Sununu is shamefully choosing politics over people and New Hampshire will suffer as a result. President Trump’s unpopular decision to sabotage insurance markets in order to implement his even-less-popular plan appears to be spilling over to states with friendly governors like Chris Sununu,” said NHDP Chair Ray Buckley.

“Sununu’s blind cooperation with Trump ignores the fact that reinsurance plans have been successful in lowering premiums, keeping carriers in the market, and creating stability and certainty. By refusing to fund the proposal, the reinsurance program is set up for failure and shows Governor Sununu’s cooperation with Trump in undermining our healthcare system for political gain.”

After the vote, Sen. Martha Fuller Clark (D-Portsmouth), member of the Joint Health Care Reform Oversight Committee, released the following statement:

“Given President Trump’s attempts to undermine our healthcare system and the failure of Republicans in Congress to act, states like New Hampshire need to be doing all we can do to stabilize our healthcare market, increase competition, and drive down costs for Granite Staters.”

“While the Joint Health Care Reform Oversight Committee authorized the NH Insurance and HHS Commissioners to seek federal waivers to create a reinsurance program and to seek all federal funds available to help pay for the program, the Committee rejected, along party lines, the NH Insurance Commissioner’s proposal to help fund the program through an added assessment on our insurance carriers.”

“Without the certainty of funding and the refusal to add an assessment on our state carriers, there’s no way for insurance carriers to reduce premiums, despite the fact that insurance assessments in the past have been used to address failures in our healthcare marketplace. Governor Sununu and his Republican allies are playing dangerous political games with our healthcare system, risking insurance carriers leaving our state, risking higher premiums for our hard-working families, and creating more destabilization in NH’s healthcare system.”

“Healthcare is an issue that affects all Granite Staters and impacts us at all levels of state government. New Hampshire policymakers should not just throw up their hands and give up working on solutions to these problems just because they are hard. It’s disheartening that Governor Sununu and Republicans in the legislature are again defaulting to the dysfunction of Washington and standing alongside President Trump’s attempts to undermine our healthcare system rather than standing with the people of New Hampshire. Real leadership is needed to bring people together to find meaningful healthcare solutions, both here and in Washington. Unfortunately, today’s vote doesn’t solve any of our problems or find any meaningful solutions.”

In light of today’s votes the New Hampshire Insurance Department (NHID) is “cancelling the public hearings scheduled for August 2nd and August 3rd relative to its market stabilization plan and proposed 1332 waiver application.”

“Consistent with today’s vote of the Joint Health Reform Oversight Committee, the NHID will continue to explore options for the 1332 waiver, and will reschedule the hearings once there is more clarity about the specifics of the state’s approach,” wrote the NHID.

Alaska and Minnesota have successfully implemented and funded similar reinsurance programs that will net-lower premiums in their states.

In response to reports of significant projected increases in individual market health care premiums, and a party-line vote by the Joint Health Care Reform Oversight Committee to block an Insurance Department proposal, Representative Ed Butler (D-Hart’s Location), a member of the Oversight Committee, released the following statement:

“President Trump has said repeatedly that he intends to ‘let Obamacare implode.’  In a belligerent act of sabotage, the President is threatening to withhold billions in cost sharing subsidies to insurance companies that are required under federal law.  The uncertainty that President Trump has created in the insurance market is a driving force in projected rate increases nationwide.”

“Instead of working with the Insurance Department to submit their full waiver request – including a 1% rate increase assessment on group markets – to achieve the greatest possible reduction in rates in the individual market, New Hampshire Republicans on this Oversight Committee have chosen the path of least resistance.”

“Republicans on the Oversight Committee voted on August 1st to prevent New Hampshire’s Insurance Department from submitting their full waiver request.  Instead the Committee authorized the Insurance and Health and Human Services Departments to request financial assistance from the federal government – without any seed money or contribution from NH insurance carriers.”

“Over 35,000 Granite Staters will be subject to spikes in rates of as much as 30 to 40% in the individual market.  By opposing commonsense efforts to bring stability to the market, Governor Sununu and Committee Republicans appear willing to use our citizens as scapegoats to achieve President Trump’s desired ‘implosion’ of our health care system.”

For more information on the waivers read the detailed reporting from Manchester Ink Link

Sen. Maggie Hassan: Time To Focus On Bipartisan Health Care Solutions

Last week, three of my Republican colleagues — Sens. Susan Collins, John McCain, and Lisa Murkowski — put the well-being of the American people before partisan politics, joining Democrats to defeat a health care repeal bill that would have raised health care costs and stripped health insurance away from millions.

Members of both parties defeated this dangerous bill, and it is going to take bipartisanship to move us forward. The Affordable Care Act needs improvement; we must move on from repeal and fix what’s not working with the law, and build on the progress we’ve made in order to bring down costs for hard-working people. Some of us have already started this conversation; I was part of a bipartisan group of senators who are also former governors who recently met to find common ground.

It is possible to find bipartisan solutions, even on an issue as complicated as health care. As governor, I worked across party lines to pass a bipartisan Medicaid expansion plan that is delivering quality, affordable insurance to more than 50,000 hard-working Granite Staters.

Medicaid expansion has made a real difference for communities across New Hampshire, particularly for people impacted by the heroin, fentanyl, and opioid crisis. People like Elizabeth, who I recently met at Goodwin Community Health in Somersworth.

Elizabeth told us that she had been homeless and lost the custody of her son as a result of a substance use disorder. Now, Elizabeth is in recovery and working at the SOS Recovery Community Organization in Rochester, helping others get the support they need. She said that she owes her recovery to the insurance she received through Medicaid expansion.

Elizabeth’s story is a great example of what is possible when Democrats and Republicans work together to improve the health of our people.

We need to take the same bipartisan approach in Congress that we took in New Hampshire, and I am eager to work with my colleagues to find areas of bipartisan cooperation so we can make key improvements to the Affordable Care Act.

To start, we must stabilize insurance markets and protect the marketplace from the Trump administration’s actions to sabotage it, actions that are increasing the cost of health insurance premiums.

One of these destabilizing actions is the administration’s ongoing threats to withhold payments — to fund what are known as cost sharing reductions — that help lower out-of-pocket expenses such as deductibles and co-pays for individuals with health insurance plans in the marketplace. This creates uncertainty, which in turn drives up costs. That’s why I’m supporting a proposal from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, which would help lower premiums by ensuring that these payments get made.

I also joined my colleagues in introducing legislation to encourage the creation of reinsurance programs, which help reduce insurance premiums by lowering the risk to insurance companies associated with high-cost patients. At the state level, the New Hampshire Department of Insurance is also pursuing a waiver under the Affordable Care Act to establish a reinsurance program.

Additionally, we need to address the Affordable Care Act’s income cliff that currently blocks many middle-class individuals and families from receiving financial help to purchase insurance through the marketplace. This will help bring down the cost of premiums for middle class Granite Staters and allow more people to access affordable coverage.

While we work to ensure market stability and address premium prices, there are other steps we can take to bring down health care costs. One of the most common issues I hear about from Granite Staters is the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs, and it’s long past time for Congress to act.

I joined my colleagues in introducing legislation to crack down on big pharmaceutical companies that hike the cost of prescription drugs that have been on the market for years or who game the system at the expense of consumers. I also believe that we should allow Medicare to negotiate the prices of prescription drugs and permit the safe importation of drugs from countries such as Canada.

There is more work to do, and these are important steps that we can take now to lower costs for consumers.

Every American deserves to have access to quality, affordable care so that they can be healthy and contribute to our economy. By working across party lines, we can take important strides toward reaching that goal.

Will Gov Sununu Save The NH Health Protection Program?

In Wake of Republican Healthcare Repeal Failure, Democratic Leaders Renew Call for Governor Sununu and Republicans to Work Across Party Lines on Healthcare

State Senator Jeff Woodburn and Rep Steve Shurtleff Push for Reauthorization of NH Health Protection Program

As millions of Americans are waiting with baited breath to see whether or not the Republicans in Washington D.C. are going to strip away their healthcare, the 50,000 Granite Staters who rely on the ACA’s expanded Medicaid program are waiting to see what Governor Chris Sununu will do.

From early on in his campaign, he has opposed the Affordable Care Act and has called for a repeal and then after he was elected, and the GOP took control in Washington, he began calling for a full repeal & replacement.

“To be clear, reform without an adequate replacement is not an acceptable option. Any repeal of the ACA must be simultaneous with a replacement,Sununu wrote in a letter to US Senate Majority Leaders.

“Reforming our nation’s health care system is imperative and our leaders must take swift, but thoughtful bipartisan action that is transparent and welcomes all sides to the table,” he added.

Now the Democratic Leaders in the NH Legislature are calling on Governor Sununu to put his words into action. Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn and House Democratic Leader Stephen Shurtleff urged Governor Sununu and legislative Republicans to finally get to work on reauthorizing the NH Health Protection Program:

“We are relieved that Republican attempts to undermine healthcare have failed and given that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, we urge Governor Sununu and his Republican leaders to begin negotiations with us to improve our healthcare system and bring down healthcare costs.”

“The most critical thing we need to do is reauthorize the NH Health Protection Program (NHHPP), which is scheduled to end next year, as soon as possible. The NHHPP is a uniquely New Hampshire solution that more than 52,000 Granite Staters rely on for their health care, drives down costs for our businesses, hospitals, working families and our state, stabilizes our insurance market, and plays a vital role in combating the opioid crisis.”

“Democrats have attempted to work with Governor Sununu and the Republican majorities in the legislature to reauthorize and improve this successful program all year, but have been brushed aside as they waited on their Republicans allies in Washington to act. Its time to do what’s right for the people of New Hampshire and we call on Governor Sununu and his Republican legislative majorities to stop putting partisan politics above the health and well-being of hard-working Granite Staters, stop dragging their feet, and begin working with us to renew this successful program as soon as possible.”

As the US Senate voted to give tax breaks to billionaires while slashing Medicaid and Medicare on their Healthcare plan, Governor Sununu remained completely silent.  In a letter to Senator Mitch McConnell on June 27th, he voiced concern over the cuts to Medicaid and NH’s ability to keep the 50,000 Granite Staters currently relying on the program insured.  Ensuring that the current recipients of insurance through the Medicaid Expansion would not be kicked off their healthcare was a cornerstone of Sununu’s campaign.

However Governor, it is time to put up or shut up.

Governor Sununu must work with both sides of the aisle and find a way to ensure that the NH Health Protection Program becomes permanent until such time that all Americans are fully covered.

Planned Parenthood: Women Were Key To Killing Trumpcare

Image by Sarah Mirk (FLIKR CC)

In a tremendous victory for women’s health, the Senate failed to pass Trumpcare.

The bill was defeated by a bipartisan vote, with every Senate Democrat voting against the bill as well as Republican Senators Collins (R-ME), McCain (R-AZ) and Murkowski (R-AK), who stood with the women of this country.

  • Trumpcare was the worst bill for women in a generation and would have cut off access to vital health care services, disproportionately impacting women who already face unfair barriers to care, especially low-income women and women of color.
  • Trumpcare would have blocked millions from accessing birth control and cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood health centers, increased premiums by 20% and taken away health insurance from tens of millions of Americans.

That’s why Planned Parenthood supporters have been vocal and persistent in their opposition to Trumpcare from day one. In recent months, an army of pink-clad Planned Parenthood patients, supporters, and advocates organized thousands of actions from coast to coast — including rallies, speak-outs at congressional town halls, lawn signs, phone banks, petition deliveries to congressional offices, and field hearings.

Over the last several months, Planned Parenthood supporters have:

  • Made more than 200,000 phone calls to members of Congress
  • Organized more than 2,200 events across the country, including rallies, petition drops, phone banks, and marches
  • Delivered over one million petition signatures to members of Congress in opposition to  “defunding” Planned Parenthood.

All told, Planned Parenthood grassroots organizing and community support was a driving force in the successful, bipartisan effort to stop Trumpcare and protect people’s access to Planned Parenthood health services.

“Women stopped this bill in its tracks. Since day one, women have led the opposition, from organizing rallies and marches to flooding congressional town halls and hosting weekly phone banks,” said Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Against all odds, grassroots organizing defeated Trumpcare. We know this is the beginning, not the end, of fighting for what we believe in — but it’s a big step forward.”

“It’s time politicians learned that they cannot attack women’s health and rights and expect to get away with it. This Congress — and this country — witnessed a never-before-seen groundswell of activism in response to politicians’ efforts to jam through the worst bill for women in a generation,” added Richards.  

“Women played a critical role in defeating Trumpcare and protecting access to critical care for millions of American families,” saidJennifer Frizzell, Vice President for Public Policy, Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund. “Since day one, women have led the opposition, from organizing rallies and marches to flooding congressional town halls and hosting weekly phone banks. Americans across the country joined the rallying cry against this dangerous bill, rose up in opposition, and never let up.”

“Tens of millions of people whose health care was threatened can rest a little easier today. And the more than one million people with Medicaid coverage who rely on Planned Parenthood will still be able to come to our health centers for care. 8,118 patients will walk through Planned Parenthood health center doors again today because millions of others stood firm in this fight. Today, tomorrow, and every day after we will continue to protect their care.”

“The worst bill for women in a generation was defeated thanks to a never-before-seen groundswell of activism. We know this is the beginning, not the end, of fighting for what we believe in — but it’s a big step forward,” Frizzell concluded.

Republicans Fail (Again) To Repeal And Replace: NH Senators Respond

Photo by Victoria Pickering on Flickr.

Democrats stood united against the GOP ‘repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act” with the help of three Republican Senators, Susan Collins, John McCain, and Lisa Murkowski they defeated yet another bill that would have stripped healthcare from 15 million Americans.

Last night’s version of the GOP plan to reform healthcare labeled the “Skinny Repeal” still gave massive tax cuts to the wealthy, would increase the cost of healthcare on working families, and make drastic cuts to Medicaid and Medicare.

“Republicans released the skinny bill just three hours before voting began. It would have retroactively repealed the Obamacare penalty on individuals who do not purchase health insurance, repealed for eight years a penalty on certain employers who do not provide employees with insurance and repealed a medical device tax until 2020. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that if it became law, 15 million fewer Americans would be insured in 2018 than under existing law,” wrote the Associated Press.

Many are praising Senator McCain for opposing this bill, however the real heroes are Sen Collins and Sen Murkowski who have been vocal opponents of the GOP repeal and replacement plans.  These two women have withstood attacks from their colleagues on the right and still found the strength to oppose these cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and specifically women’s health.

“I thank Senators Lisa Murkowski, John McCain, and Susan Collins for putting the health and well-being of the American people before partisan politics,” said Senator Maggie Hassan.  “I am also incredibly grateful for the brave Granite Staters and Americans who have laid themselves bare and shared their stories over the past months. Without you, this outcome would not have been possible. Now, it is time for Republicans and Democrats to come together and get to work on improving and building upon the Affordable Care Act in order to bring down health care costs for hard-working people.”

“Tonight, I’m very relieved that, for the time being, healthcare repeal has been set aside,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “Republican leadership, through a reckless and partisan process, came dangerously close to undermining healthcare for millions of Americans and tens of thousands of Granite Staters. The American people have made their voices heard and deserve credit for defeating this dangerous legislation. It’s time for Republican leadership to finally abandon their attempts to repeal healthcare and begin working across the aisle to improve the Affordable Care Act. Healthcare is a life and death issue and it’s time for Democrats and Republicans to come together and do the will of the American people.”

“Last night was a win for the American people who are tired of partisan politics getting in the way of real solutions,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “Everyone who took the time to call their members of Congress over the past several months has played an important role in defeating this misguided effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and I want to thank you all. I have also heard from Granite Staters who have faced challenges accessing healthcare through the ACA. I appreciate those concerns, and I recognize the ACA is far from perfect. I urge my Republican colleagues to abandon their focus on repealing the ACA and instead come to the table in good faith to improve our healthcare system so that everyone is able to access quality, affordable health insurance. I’ve outlined what I hope can be the basis for bipartisan conversations about commonsense solutions to fix problems within the ACA and look forward to working with my Republican colleagues on this critical issue.”

Last week, Kuster wrote an op-ed with Congressman Peter Welch (VT-At Large) in the Valley News on their proposal to improve upon the successes of the Affordable Care Act, like reducing the uninsured rate and improving the quality of health insurance, while fixing the remaining issues in our nation’s healthcare system. Kuster and Welch also highlighted how repealing the ACA and passing the Republican healthcare bill would harm their constituents.

After the first failed attempt to repeal the ACA, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter released the following statement:

“Senate Republicans took a vote to rip healthcare from millions of Americans without even knowing themselves what’s in Mitch McConnell’s latest repeal plan. In doing so, they not only voted to take health coverage and financial peace of mind from their own constituents — they also betrayed the fundamental values of transparency and openness that underpin our democratic system. I share the anger and frustration of the many New Hampshire families and health care providers whose voices were ignored by the Senate today. This is not how our government is supposed to work.”

The AFL-CIO Executive Council also spoke out against these attacks on Medicare and Medicaid and called for real reforms that help working people.

“Quality health care should be a basic right in the United States. It should not be a commodity that can be denied because you have too little income, do not have the right job or any job, or have a pre-existing medical condition. Republican leaders in Congress, however, are pursuing an agenda that attacks this principle and undermines everyone’s health care, whether you are covered through a job, an individual plan, Medicaid or Medicare. Each of their attempts, so far, to pass legislation that repeals major parts of the Affordable Care Act has failed, however, largely because tens of millions of Americans have spoken out against their proposals, and because some Republican lawmakers have stood up for working people against these health care cuts despite enormous pressure from within their party.”

The NH Democratic Party thanked Senators Shaheen and Hassan and highlighted Governor Sununu’s silence on the GOP healthcare reforms.

“Endless thanks are due to Senator Shaheen and Senator Hassan for standing up on behalf of Granite Staters in our nation’s capital. Last night, 51 Senator voted to do the right thing by rejecting a health care bill that would have kicked millions of Americans off insurance and hiked premiums by 20% just next year. New Hampshire voters delivered two of those key Senate votes by electing Democrats in competitive races in 2014 and 2016. This should underscore the importance of the Democratic energy that continues to grow in New Hampshire and across the country,” said NHDP Chairman Ray Buckley.

“Meanwhile, Governor Sununu refused to use his platform to stand up for the 73% of Granite Staters who don’t support Trumpcare. Instead, he said nothing. He had the opportunity to join five other Republican governors opposing this devastating bill. Instead, he did nothing. It couldn’t be clearer than it is today: Governor Sununu serves President Trump, Washington Republicans, and corporate special interests, not New Hampshire.”

It is clear that the Republicans are not interested in helping to ensure that more Americans have access to healthcare or god forbid have healthcare provided to them, they are only interested in tax breaks for the wealthy and the corporations who are bankrupting working people.

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