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NH Insurance Department Issues Guidance to Consumers on Finding Help with Insurance Enrollment

CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire Insurance Department encourages consumers who need to select a health insurance plan during the open enrollment period to seek the help of an insurance agent or broker or a Federal Navigator, if needed. Residents can receive assistance from these types of in-person assisters at no additional cost during the open enrollment period. Open enrollment began November 1 and ends December 15, 2017.

Insurance agents and brokers can assist consumers with enrolling in a health insurance plan through HealthCare.gov, through an agent or broker, or directly from an insurer. Agents and brokers can recommend specific plans to their clients based on their health care needs and budget, and appointments are free during open enrollment. The Insurance Department encourages consumers who do not receive premium assistance on HealthCare.gov to seek help from an agent or broker to identify all plan options. The Insurance Department website features a federally-created list of agents and brokers who are certified to sell plans on HealthCare.gov, although many also sell plans outside of HealthCare.gov. Consumers may also visit the Find Local Help tool on HealthCare.gov to find a local agent or broker.

Navigators are funded and trained by the federal government to provide free help to consumers, small businesses, and their employees as they look for health coverage options through the Marketplace, including completing eligibility and enrollment forms. They are required to be unbiased, meaning they cannot recommend a specific plan. Certified Application Counselors are certified by the federal government and are based at nonprofit organizations and hospitals. NH residents can find a Navigator using the Find Local Help tool on HealthCare.gov.

Even if consumers like their 2017 plan, they should still shop and compare options for 2018, and they can do this with in-person help. The options available are changing for 2018, meaning some 2017 plans may not be available. All Minuteman Health plans will terminate on December 31, 2017. Harvard Pilgrim Health Care will not offer its New Hampshire Network plans on HealthCare.gov for 2018, but it will offer its ElevateHealth Network. If NH residents have the Harvard Pilgrim New Hampshire Network, they will need to review their provider needs and select a plan accordingly. Network and prescription drug formulary information for 2018 plans sold on HealthCare.gov can be found here.

Plans may also change their in-network providers and prescription drug coverage from year to year. If consumers don’t take any action, HealthCare.gov will automatically enroll them in a plan that is considered “similar” to their current plan; but that plan may not have a similar premium, and their doctors and prescription drugs may not be in network.

NH residents with 2017 coverage received a renewal letter from their insurance company – but the letter’s estimate of what they may pay in monthly premium might be not accurate if they receive a subsidy. This is because precise subsidy information was not available at the time the letters were prepared. If a consumer qualifies for subsidies on HealthCare.gov, the Insurance Department encourages those individuals to use the plan preview tool to get an estimate of their subsidy and premium amounts for 2018.

The NH Insurance Department Can Help:

More information for New Hampshire residents about open enrollment may be found on the Insurance Department’s website. If you have questions about or issues with using the Marketplace and obtaining coverage, please call the federal government at (800) 318-2596. Once you have coverage, please contact the Insurance Department with questions or concerns at 1-800-852-3416 or (603) 271-2261, or by email at consumerservices@ins.nh.gov.

Former President Barack Obama Releases Video Encouraging Enrollment at HealthCare.Gov

“8 in 10 People Can Find Plans for $75 a Month or Less…cheaper than a lot of cell phone plans”

Former President Obama has a message, Get Covered. Earlier this morning, the former President released a video encouraging Americans to enroll at HealthCare.gov which opened for business today.

According to a new Health and Human Services report, people can find even more affordable plans this year than in years past.

This year many Americans can find a plan for under $75 each month because of the financial assistance that is available that lowers someone’s monthly premiums. That’s right, People will pay less for coverage this year than ever before. (HHS report page 37)
5 Vital Facts About Signing Up For Coverage at HealthCare.gov:

#1: Sign up by December 15. Open Enrollment starts on November 1 but you must take action by December 15, no matter if this is your first time getting covered or if you are returning to shop and save. Beat the rush and sign up early.

#2: Coverage could be cheaper than you think. Last year, 8 in 10 people qualified for financial help to make their monthly premiums more affordable. In fact, most people found plans available between $50 to $100 per month.

#3: Shop and save. If you had coverage through HealthCare.gov for 2017, you should come back to update your information and compare your options for 2018. Every year, plans and prices change, you could save money by switching to a new plan that still meets your needs.

#4: Those who choose to go without health insurance may have to pay a penalty. There is a minimum penalty of $695 for not having health insurance.

#5: Free help is available. If you have questions about signing up or want to talk through your options with a trained professional, free help is just a call or quick away. Call 1-800-318-2596, visitlocalhelp.healthcare.gov or make a one-on-one appointment now.

Get America Covered is a nationwide campaign focused on cutting through the confusion to make sure people get the information they need to get covered and stay covered. Get America Covered will help people looking to enroll in health coverage, as well as those who are helping other people sign-up; paying special attention to those states that rely on HealthCare.gov to sign people up for coverage.

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

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

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

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

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

The Senate Budget Puts Health Care for Granite Staters at Risk to Give Huge Tax Cuts to the Wealthy

Resolution sets up blueprint for tax cuts that disproportionately benefit wealthy households while cutting health care and education for everyone else

MANCHESTER — The U.S. Senate voted late last evening to approve a Budget Resolution that sets a framework for cuts to federal health care and education as well as tax cuts that mainly benefit corporations and the wealthiest households. The Resolution includes a $1.5 trillion tax cut that will increase the deficit and may force cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, education, and other services that families rely on.

We are thankful that in New Hampshire our Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan voted against the Resolution that could put Medicaid for 171, 500 Granite Staters and Medicare for 266,210 people with disabilities and seniors at risk.

The Senate budget includes $5.8 trillion in cuts to federal spending, including nearly $500 billion from Medicare and $1.3 trillion from Medicaid and other health care programs. Another $650 billion may be cut from income security programs, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for individuals with disabilities, and tax credits for working families.

Time and time again, the Republicans in Congress have shown that their priority is taking care of the rich and big business, not the vast majority of Americans. They started with trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would have taken health coverage and Medicaid from millions. Failing in that effort, thanks to the resistance mobilized by thousands of American, they have now turned to a budget plan that would make even more cuts to health care and other programs—all to give tax breaks to the people who need them least.

We’re so grateful that we can depend on Senators Shaheen and Hassan to stand up against cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and other programs that families depend on. We will continue to need the Senators’ leadership as the GOP and President Trump move forward on implementing their plan for massive tax breaks for the rich and corporations paid for by cuts to our health care and education.

The Senate budget resolution creates instructions to make these cuts and write legislation with tax breaks that mainly benefit the wealthiest among us based on a framework laid out by President Trump earlier this year. Under the GOP plan, the richest 1% in New Hampshire would receive about 53.3% of the tax breaks.

These New Hampshire households are projected to have an income of at least $545,600 next year. The framework would provide them an average tax cut of $69,390 in 2018, which would increase their income by an average of 4.2 percent, while the poorest 20% of Granite Staters would see only 2.2% of the tax breaks under this proposal.

Rights & Democracy stands in opposition to the Trump-GOP tax plan that cuts health care, education, and other key social safety net programs to give tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans and corporations whose pockets and company coffers are already overflowing.

“Now, more than ever, we must reject a budget passed on the backs of low income folks, working families and America’s shrinking middle class. We must join together to fight for the health care and other programs hundreds of thousands of people in New Hampshire depend on,” said Jessica Early, RAD’s Health Care Justice Organizer.

“We are asking our members to call on Governor Sununu at (603) 271-2121 today and ask him to stand with Granite Staters—not with millionaires and billionaires—and urge him to reject his party’s tax plan,” Early added.

Rights and Democracy Decries Trump’s Executive Actions On Healthcare

Trump’s  Executive Order, Ending of Cost Sharing Reductions, and Roll Back of No-cost Contraception Will Rob Millions of Their Health Care

With the recent defeat of Graham Cassidy and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal efforts that preceded, we thought the battle to save our health care was won.

Unfortunately, yesterday President Trump demonstrated unequivocally that this battle is far from over—he is directly attacking women, the middle class, and the poor in his effort to strip millions more from having necessary access to health care in order to provide tax breaks for the wealthy and powerful.

Rights & Democracy stands in opposition to Trump and the GOP Congressional leadership’s inhumane and immoral attack on the health care of hundreds of thousands of Granite Staters and millions of Americans. We stand in support of our members of Congress (see Sen. Maggie Hassan’s statement and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s statement) in their resistance to these proposals and we call on Governor Chris Sununu to do the same.

Last night the President announced that he will end Cost Sharing Reduction (CSR) payments that lower costs for more than 6 million people who buy coverage on the exchange. Uncertainty about the future of these CSRs is key reason that many insurers are substantially hiking their rates for 2018—some by more than 20 percent. Some insurers have also left the market. Even Republicans are worried about how this decision will drive up costs and leave millions uninsured.

In addition to the elimination of CSR payments, Trump issued a new executive order that allows health association plans to sell watered down health coverage that doesn’t meet current standards under the ACA. This executive order includes provisions like those in the ACA repeal bills that were roundly rejected earlier in the year by both lawmakers and the public. Trump’s order loosens up rules for insurance companies so that they can go back to refusing coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, charging them more for their coverage, and selling bogus plans that don’t even include essential health benefits like maternity care, mental health and prescription drugs that are required for plans sold in the ACA marketplaces. These plans could even have lifetime and annual benefit caps.

Waiving ACA protections means these plans can cherry pick young, healthy consumers and pull them out of the existing individual health insurance market, leading to a market dominated by older and sicker people. That means that rates will skyrocket, insurers will flee, and, ultimately, the entire private health insurance market could collapse.

Finally, the Trump Administration has launched a full on assault on women’s reproductive health with a sweeping new rule that eliminates free contraceptive coverage based on any religious or “moral” objections from the employer. This is a significant departure from the existing law, which allowed exemptions for religious employers like churches and Catholic hospitals only. Under the new rule, any employer, not just religious ones, can deny coverage for birth control based on their own personal religious beliefs or “moral” objections.

Through the ACA, employers were required to include no-cost birth control coverage in their health insurance plans. More than 55 million women have access to birth control without co-payments because of that guarantee – saving them $1.4 billion in 2013 alone. But now these 55 million women could lose access to free contraception if their bosses decide they suddenly have a “moral” objection to paying for it. As a result, millions of American women and families could be left without affordable birth control.

The eliminations of CSR payments, the executive order on health association plans, and the new rule denying contraceptive coverage to millions of women, all make it clear: Trump doesn’t care about the will of the people who have rejected the Republican agenda for health care over the past several months.

Instead of listening to Americans, Trump is charging full-steam ahead with his stated goal of ACA repeal through a political campaign to sabotage the ACA by forcing premium increases, creating instability in the market, actively interfering with the ability of consumers to sign up for coverage, and rolling back the no-cost birth control for 55 million women.

When coupled with the Republican budget proposal working its way through Congress now—which includes massive cuts to Medicaid and further privatizes Medicare—Trump’s sabotage would mean the destruction of our health system as we know it. We will return to the days when being sick could bar you from coverage. We will return to the days when being a woman meant discrimination in the health care system. And we will see Medicaid and Medicare—two programs essential to the quality of life of millions of Americans—irreversibly transformed leading to access and lower quality care.

And what does Trump and his GOP backers in Congress gain from robbing millions of their health care? Huge tax breaks for corporations and the wealthiest Americans.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Congresswoman Annie Kuster also spoke out against the order.

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

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

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


UPDATED to include statement from NH Democratic Leadership

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

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

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

The Republican Sabotage Of Healthcare

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alliance For Retired Americans: Activists Stop Graham-Cassidy Health Care Tax On Older Americans

Vulnerable Citizens Dodge another GOP Senate Bullet

The following statement was issued by Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, regarding Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision not to hold a vote on the Graham-Cassidy bill repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy introduced a bill that would have placed an age tax on older Americans, eliminated protections for people with pre-existing conditions and resulted in at least 32 millions of Americans losing affordable health care.

“Fortunately, enough of their fellow Senators recognized the ramifications of a dangerous bill and a warped legislative process, preventing Sen. McConnell from moving forward with his cruel plans.

“Millions of Americans can breathe a sigh of relief, but not for long. Majority Leader McConnell and Vice President Pence have already promised to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act again, instead of working in a bipartisan manner to improve health care for all.

“The 4.4 million members of the Alliance will not rest. Our members will stand down for the moment, but are ready to speak out for health care for all Americans whenever it is threatened.”

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.”

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