• Advertisement

Disability Advocates Speak Out Against The GOP Tax Scam

Granite Staters return to New Hampshire and tell their stories after risking arrest in Washington D.C. protesting the GOP Tax Bill 

A delegation of Granite State disability rights and health care advocates who traveled to Washington, DC this week to protest the damaging Senate bill that guts Medicaid and Medicare for working families to fund massive tax breaks for the rich and corporations held a press briefing about the bill and their participation in a large-scale protest this week in the nation’s capital – which in some cases, included being arrested –  in Concord yesterday.

In a fast-tracked process that required Senators to vote on a 500-page draft bill with notes still in the margins, Senate Republicans passed a tax giveaway to the very wealthy and big corporations that will pave the way for massive Medicaid and Medicare cuts, strip 13 million Americans of health care coverage and increase insurance premiums by 10 percent for millions more. Millions of people with disabilities and seniors, working families, and children will be stuck with the bill and cuts to critical services and basic human rights all so the rich can get richer. Governor Chris Sununu has praised the bill as a “net positive.” 

The press conference highlighted the actual impact on middle and lower income Granite Staters and share the personal stories of those who traveled to Washington DC to protest it.

“I traveled to Washington D.C. to protest this bill because I know this bill will hurt the people who can least afford to be hurt, the struggling middle class and the working poor,” said Melissa Hinebauch, Human Rights Co-Chair of the Kent Street Coalition. The mother of three spoke out against the GOP Tax Bill highlighting the harm working families will suffer under the proposal.

Hinebauch also spoke about how the bill will add over $1 trillion dollars to the national debt while Senator Orin Hatch said “we no longer have the money” to fund essential programs like the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). “This tax bill is just mean and heartless.”

Video of Melissa Hinebauch

“People with disabilities will be the hardest hit by this tax bill for the wealthy,” said Forrest Beaudoin-Friede a member of ABLE-NH who traveled also traveled to Washington D.C. to protest this GOP tax bill.  “This tax bill takes away tax credits that help small businesses become ADA (Americans with Disabilities) compliant. This credit is equal to half of their expenses above $250 dollars. This effectively raises taxes on small businesses who want to open their doors to both customers and workers with disabilities who need reasonable accommodations.”

“This bill will force cuts to Medicaid that will harm people with disabilities, like me, and some will die,” Beaudoin-Friede stated.

Eddie Gomez went to Washington to speak out against this tax bill on behalf of his seven year old nephew who suffers from the genetic disease, Muscular Dystrophy.   The program that helps Gomez’s sister, a single parent, is funded through charitable donations and receives no federal funding.

“This tax bill eliminates deductions for charitable contributions and discourages charitable giving while threatening enormous cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. How will my sister be able to afford the care for my nephew on a lower-middle class income?” asked Gomez.

Gomez explained that over 8 million working families used the medical device deduction, that would be eliminated under the GOP tax plan, to help offset the costs of high priced equipment and medical expenses.

Video of Forrest Beaudoin-Friede and Eddie Gomez members of ABLE-NH

“We are fighting against this ‘Reverse Robin Hood’ tax bill” said Lisa Beaudoin, Executive Director of ABLE NH.  This tax bill makes “deep cuts to a whole range of programs that are critical to people with disabilities.”

“This tax bill will be a slow death sentence to people with developmental disabilities,” she added.

Video of  Lisa Beaudoin, Executive Director of ABLE NH

This bill will cause “13 million people to lose their healthcare and increase the premiums of millions more,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress.

The GOP Tax Bill passed the senate in a 51-49 party line vote and now moves to a committee of conference to hash out differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.

Granite Staters Speak Out Against Cuts To Medicare And Medicaid

Granite Staters Call for No Cuts to Medicaid and Medicare to Pay for Tax Breaks for the Rich and Corporations at Manchester, NH Community Forum

National Day of Action Calls on Congress to Protect Health Care for Millions in the Budget and Reject Massive Tax Breaks for Wealthiest Americans

Manchester, NH – After Congress spent weeks once again attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act, over thirty Granite Staters attended a community forum co-organized by Granite State Organizing Project (GSOP) and Rights & Democracy (RAD) on Wednesday, October 4 to educate the public on the Congressional  budget proposal. New Hampshire seniors, working people, Representative Robert Backus, and voices from the front lines of healthcare including doctors gathered to discuss what’s at stake under budget plans. These Granite Staters joined hundreds of others across the country at similar events for this national day of action led by Health Care for America Now (HCAN). On this day of action, grassroots groups across the country mobilized against the latest effort to strip health care from millions of Americans while at the same time advancing a tax cut proposal that benefits primarily the richest 1% of households.

The event highlighted the devastating impacts of the House  Budget Resolution, which cuts $1.5 trillion from health care, especially Medicaid while giving tax breaks to the rich and corporations. The resolution includes the adoption of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) repeal proposal that the House passed in May that could take healthcare away from over 23 million people and make permanent cuts to Medicaid for seniors, people with disabilities, children, and veterans.  House Speaker Paul Ryan plans a vote on the House budget proposal this week.

“We’ve seen time and again that Congress will stop at nothing to strip millions of Americans of vital care, and now they are using the budget process to make the same kind of devastating cuts to health care that were so unpopular in the last few repeal bills,” said Viola Katusiime, an Organizer for GSOP. “Americans across the country rose up to beat back repeated attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and we will remain vigilant as Congress tries to gut essential health care programs to pay for tax breaks for the 1 percent.”

The proposed budget cuts would fundamentally transform Medicaid for the worse, ending its guarantee of coverage for children, seniors, and people with disabilities including 171,500 New Hampshire Medicaid recipients. These cuts would also be a devastating blow to New Hampshire’s state budget and cripple its ability to face public health emergencies like the opioid crisis, which is ravaging communities across the Granite State (since under the administration plans it will be up to each state alone to manage health care emergencies without additional support from the federal government).

Medicare serves over 55 million people ages 65 and over and people with permanent disabilities, including 266,210 people in New Hampshire. But the Medicare cuts of $487 billion over 10 years and efforts to privatize Medicare through vouchers in the budget resolution would devastate this program and leave seniors and people with permanent disabilities without an affordable option for care.

At the same time, the federal budget proposal includes trillions of dollars in tax breaks for the rich and corporations. Under the administration’s proposed tax plan, wealthy households’ income tax rate will be reduced by almost 5 percent, and the corporate tax rate will drop by 15 percent, among a variety of other tax breaks. These tax cuts in total will cost $1.5 trillion – the same amount as the health care cuts in the House budget resolution, including significant Medicaid cuts and $500 billion in new cuts to Medicare, a vital program for seniors.

While Senator Jeanne Shaheen regrettably could not attend the event she voiced her solidarity with the Granite Staters in attendance in a letter she sent to them:

“I share your commitment to supporting the individuals who rely on the quality, consistent access to health care services that Medicare and Medicaid offer. We must continue to invest in them and resist reckless attempts to cut these programs by prioritizing tax cuts for the wealthy. Please be assured that, in reviewing any new tax proposals, I will be looking to see how the plan will impact middle-class families and small businesses across the state of New Hampshire.”

To learn more about how Granite Staters are fighting this unjust and immoral budget, please contact Viola Katusiime with Granite State Organizing Project at violakat@granitestateorganizing.org or Kathy Staub with Rights & Democracy at kathy@radnh.org.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Senator Hassan greeted Granite Staters at Coos County Nursing Hospital.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senator Hassan Calls Medicaid Cuts “Devastating” To NH Schools

Senator Hassan Highlights Devastating Impact Medicaid Cuts Would Have on Students with Disabilities & School Districts across New Hampshire

WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Maggie Hassan held a press call to highlight the devastating impact Medicaid cuts would have on students who experience disabilities and school districts across New Hampshire.

“Countless children who experience disabilities in New Hampshire are able to go to school and participate in their communities because of the Medicaid program, but under major proposals being floated in Congress, New Hampshire school districts stand to lose a minimum of $8.7 million in Medicaid funding,” Senator Hassan said. “We cannot go back to the days where we marginalized or don’t assist some of our most vulnerable students, and I will continue fighting against these senseless cuts to ensure that every student – regardless of their personal circumstances – has the support they need.”

On the call, Senator Hassan was joined by Dr. Carl Ladd of the New Hampshire School Administrators Association and Mike Skibbie of the Disability Rights Center, both of whom expressed extreme concern for what cuts to Medicaid would mean for students disabilities, as well as school districts who would have to make up for lost funding by cutting other critical programs that help students succeed.

“By covering medical support services for students who experience disabilities, Medicaid has been integral in helping school districts comply with IDEA requirements and fulfilling our obligation to Granite State students who experience disabilities,” said Dr. Carl Ladd, Executive Director of the New Hampshire School Administrators Association. “If schools lose funding from Medicaid, districts would face huge budget shortages and could be forced to cut access to behavioral health services, health screenings, and school nurses that countless students depend upon.”

“At the Disability Rights Center, we focus on eliminating barriers so that people with disabilities can live meaningful and fulfilling lives,” said Mike Skibbie, Policy Director of the Disability Rights Center New Hampshire. “As part of those efforts, we have fought to ensure that young people who experience disabilities have access to a quality public education…Medicaid funding to school districts is a very important part of making that access possible, providing support to students with disabilities so that they can be fully integrated into the classroom and succeed just like their peers.”

Last year, New Hampshire schools received $29 million in Medicaid funding. Analysis based on methodology from The School Superintendents Association, shows that under major proposals being considered in Congress, local New Hampshire school districts stand to lose a minimum of $8.7 million – and that number could grow significantly (click here for a district-by-district breakdown). Trumpcare also specifically targets special education with a provision declaring that states would no longer have to consider schools eligible Medicaid providers

Superintendents across New Hampshire have also spoken out about what the proposed cuts to Medicaid would mean for their schools and the quality of education they strive to provide all Granite State students:

Concord Superintendent Terri Forsten:

“Concord School District stands to lose more than $350,000 in Medicaid funding, which would be absolutely devastating for our students who experience disabilities and to the quality of education we strive to provide all of our students. Slashing Medicaid would force us to cut other critical programs in our already squeezed school budget. I urge the Trump Administration to reconsider cutting so much funding from a program that has helped countless students succeed and be fully included into their classrooms. This reduction in revenue would impact our plans to create a 21st century learning facility for our middle school students. These kinds of cuts inappropriately pit the necessity of funding special education programs against other community priorities when we should be working together to do what is best for all students.”

Berlin Superintendent Corinne Cascadden:

“I am deeply troubled that our school district could lose at least $100,000 in Medicaid funding under proposals we have seen in Washington. Medicaid funding has helped our students who experience disabilities become fully integrated members of their classrooms. Berlin currently has 24% of its students identified with disabilities, a much greater percentage than the state average. To make up for such a dramatic loss in funding from Medicaid, other school programs will need to be eliminated to meet the needs of students. Locally, the tax payers cannot bear the loss with an already high property tax rate $39.97 per 1000 and a high senior citizen population on fixed incomes to meet the deficit. I am deeply worried that the education of our students will suffer, and hope that the Trump Administration changes course before taking these steps that would hurt so many of our young people.”

Senate Democrats, Underscore Dangers of Cuts to Medicaid Under Trumpcare

Trumpcare Would End Medicaid Expansion and Cut the Program by More Than $800 Billion

Democrats, Educators, Parents Outline the Harmful Impact Cutting Medicaid Would Have on Students and Their Potential in the Classroom

Children Make Up Almost 50% of Medicaid Beneficiaries, Highlighting the Disproportionate Effect Trumpcare Would Have on Children

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Bob Casey, Maggie Hassan, and Michael Bennet outlined the harmful effects of Trumpcare on children and students as a result of Republicans’ plan to make cuts to Medicaid.  Senate Democrats will fight to ensure every child is afforded the care they need. The senators were joined by Marbea Tammaro, longtime occupational therapist at Johns Hopkins and Virginia public schools, and Julie Gerhart Rothholz of Souderton, PA, whose son, Evan, is six years old and has Down Syndrome.

Watch video of the press conference here beginning with Senator Maggie Hassan.

“Decimating Medicaid, as Republicans are scheming to do, will have devastating consequences for children in schools,” Senator Bob Casey said. “School districts in Pennsylvania need Medicaid funding to provide services for vulnerable children, yet Republicans are cutting these funds to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy.”

“As the mom of a son who experiences disabilities, my family has experienced firsthand the strengths and flaws of our health care system,” Senator Maggie Hassan said. “Children like my son are able to go to school and participate in their communities because of the Medicaid program now under threat by Trumpcare. Without the support from Medicaid, school districts would be faced with cutting services that help integrate students with disabilities. We cannot afford to go back to the days when we marginalize or don’t assist some of our most vulnerable students, and I will stand strong with the people of New Hampshire, my colleagues, and educators across the nation in fighting against this dangerous bill that would pull us backward.”

“The Republican health care plan will cut Medicaid by over $800 billion, threatening basic health care services for many children, including more than 400,000 kids in Colorado alone.” Senator Michael Bennet said. “Medicaid also supports critical services that kids receive in schools, including vision tests, screenings for mental health, and assistance for disabilities. Medicaid funding also allows schools to employ the nurses and therapists responsible for helping our kids. The extreme cut to Medicaid is one of the most harmful parts of the Republican bill, and I will continue to fight back against this assault on our children’s health.”

Marbea Tammaro said, “In our area it’s difficult to find the funding and staffing to cover the mandatory services for students with special needs. Medicaid funding in the schools provides reimbursement to school districts for these expenses…Not having access to Medicaid funding would mean fewer service for all students, both students with disabilities and students in a general education setting. We encourage continually funding of Medicaid in the schools.”

Julie Gerhart Rothholz said, “What I fear every day as a parent is that I’m going to wake up one day and we’re going to be faced with the reality of block grants, reduced funding, and health services are going to become a business decision. Every business decision doesn’t necessarily consider the student, the person that needs help as an adult. My thought is, if we’re going to talk about business, we should probably talk about investing early to save later; that we should talk about the law of unintended consequences, and that we should talk about how these are people and what we do now can promote their independence as an adult.”

Following the passage of the Affordable Care Act, 95% of students now have health coverage. Republicans’ plan to make devastating cuts to Medicaid under Trumpcare threatens the achievements made in children’s care. Care now jeopardized under Trumpcare includes vision tests in school, prescreening and treatment services for students, services for students with disabilities, and mental health services, as well as the ability for schools to employ nurses and therapists through Medicaid revenue.

Pfizer Jacks Up Drug Costs, Pays Billions to Stockholders

Prescription Prices Ver5

Photo by Chris Potter via Flickr

Ever wonder why prescription drug costs are so high? Take a few minutes and read Bill Lazonick’s piece on Pfizer.

From January 2001 through September 2015, Pfizer paid out [to stockholders] $95.5 billion in buybacks and $87.1 billion in dividends.

That’s $182.6 billion paid to stockholders… compared to $37.1 billion paid in corporate taxes over the same time frame. Do the math. That’s almost five times more money paid to stockholders than paid in taxes.

Now, stop and think about this. Why are stockholders getting all that money? When shares are bought and sold on the stock exchange, none of that money goes back to the corporation. Instead, the money goes to the previous owner of the stock – who may have owned that stock for less than a second. (Read more about “high frequency trading” here.)

And yet, most corporations pay lots of money to their stockholders. For what? Passing stock from one owner to another isn’t investing in the corporation’s future. So far in 2015, Pfizer has paid more than twice as much to stockholders as it has invested in R&D.

Why are stockholders getting all that money?

— — — —

tieby Unsplash via PixabayPaying money to stockholders benefits corporate executives who are “paid for performance.” (How this works, using Verizon as a case study, is a previous NHLN post.) In the case of Pfizer’s CEO, “75% of his long-term equity awards are earned based on relative and absolute total shareholder return.” In other words, the CEO’s compensation depends on Pfizer paying money to shareholders. If stockholders don’t get enough money, the CEO doesn’t get that compensation. And it’s not just the CEO. All of Pfizer’s top corporate executives are paid according to whether they meet “shareholder return” targets.

Back to Bill Lazonick’s piece:

In 2014, [Ian C.] Read as [Pfizer] CEO had total direct compensation of $22.6 million, of which 27 percent came from exercising stock options and 50 percent from the vesting of stock awards. The other four highest-paid executives named on Pfizer’s 2015 proxy statement averaged $8.0 million, with 24 percent from stock options and 41 percent from stock awards.

Remember, a good chunk of that compensation was based on the amount of money paid to stockholders. Which probably explains why Pfizer is paying so much more to stockholders than it’s spending on R&D.

— — — —

dollar by TBIT via PixabayWhere does all that money come from, anyway?

From Bloomberg:

Pfizer Inc., the nation’s biggest drugmaker, has raised prices on 133 of its brand-name products in the U.S. this year, according to research from UBS, more than three-quarters of which added up to hikes of 10 percent or more. … In a note Friday, analysts at Morgan Stanley said Pfizer’s net prices grew 11 percent a year on average from 2012 to 2014.

The Wall Street Journal documented Pfizer’s three-year market research campaign to decide the price of a new breast cancer drug.

“[I]ts process yielded a price that bore little relation to the drug industry’s oft-cited justification for its prices, the cost of research and development. … Staff members put together a chart estimating the revenue and prescription numbers at various prices… The chart showed a 25% drop in doctors’ willingness to prescribe the new drug if it cost more than $10,000 a month.”

Two years ago, AARP investigated the pricing strategy for another Pfizer drug, with an expiring patent:

[T]he manufacturer of the popular anti-cholesterol drug Lipitor employed an unusually aggressive strategy — including a pay-for-delay agreement, a coupon program, and a substantial price increase — to try to maintain revenue and market share after Lipitor’s patent expired. … Several major U.S. retailers have filed lawsuits against Pfizer and Ranbaxy that accuse them of violating antitrust laws by striking a deal that kept generic versions of Lipitor off the market… Pfizer’s chief executive reported that they maintained three times more market share than what is traditionally seen when blockbusters lose patent protection, “add(ing) hundreds of millions of dollars of profitability to the company.”

And a bunch of Pfizer’s profits come from government spending. There isn’t a lot of available research into government spending on pharmaceuticals, but what I’ve found is enlightening. As of 2010, Pfizer’s Lipitor – in varying strengths – represented three of the top-20 drugs prescribed under both Medicare and Department of Defense health programs. As of 2003, Medicaid was spending almost $650 million a year just on Lipitor.

That’s a lot of taxpayer money going to Pfizer.  While the corporation is paying twice as much to shareholders as it’s spending on R&D. While it’s paying five times as much to shareholders as it’s spending on corporate taxes. While Pfizer is trying to use the US corporate tax rate to justify off-shoring profits through a merger with Allergan.

While Pfizer’s CEO is receiving millions in compensation based on the amount of money the corporation pays to stockholders.

— — — —

hands by Gaertringen via PixabayAnd where else does that money come from?

If you have family or friends on Medicare, you probably know that the price of prescription drug coverage is going up significantly next year – even though there will be no Social Security COLA.

If you’re a State of New Hampshire retiree, you know that your cost of drug coverage is going up significantly next year – even though there hasn’t been a retirement COLA for the past six years.

The billions being paid to Pfizer stockholders are coming out of a lot of pockets… including the pockets of people who are spending their “golden years” choosing between medicine and food.

One more time: why are stockholders getting all that money? What have they done to deserve it?

Speaker Ryan Has Three Goals: Destroy Social Security, Medicare And The USPS

Paul Ryan (FLIKR CC Starley Shelton)

Paul Ryan (FLIKR CC Starley Shelton)

Koch Brothers darling Multi Millionaire Congressman Paul Ryan is leaping back on to the national stage as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Mr Ryan was initially hesitant citing family concerns (despite the fact he is an opponent of paid leave for ordinary Americans)  but eventually was swayed by other GOP leaders to take the job. Ryan, who seems fixated on reducing retirement benefits for both the American public and especially federal workers, will have a larger platform to try to make these cuts a reality. Clearly these ideas are unpopular to many but as Paul Krugman brilliantly stated, Ryan is “the best con man they got.”  Republicans are using him to sell their treasure trove of unpopular policies to the apathetic American Public

Ryan was an architect of George Bush’s  failed plan to partially privatize  Social Security in 2005. More recently Ryan has teamed up with Congressman Darrell Issa to push the idea of reducing Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) benefits for Federal Workers. In a letter to the Congressional Budget Office they emphasized that the CBO should consider “different options for reforming FERS, based on changes made in recent years to other large pension plans, both public and private. The report should include, but not limit itself to, adjusting the retirement contributions of federal employees, altering the formula for computing pension benefit payments, and expanding the defined contribution component while reducing the defined benefit component.” This sounds quite ominous for Federal Workers. The intent is crystal clear.

As outlined in The New Yorker Ryan believes the only reason privatization failed in 2005 was because of the way it was marketed.

“The Administration did a bad job of selling it,” he told me. Bush had campaigned on national-security issues, only to pitch Social Security reform after reelection. “And . . . thud,” Ryan said. “You’ve got to prepare the country for these things. You can’t just spring it on them after you win.” The lesson: “Don’t let the engineers run the marketing department.”

 

Here is where the job of being an elite con man comes into play.

10404189_10153548324976418_913827613849190064_nAfter repeatedly emphasizing he did not want the Speaker’s job he abruptly changed his mind and accepted it. Publicly he worried that “its a job for a empty nester” not a person with young children.  “I cannot and will not give up my family time,” he told reporters before abruptly changing his mind.  Curiously Ryan has been a staunch opponent of paid family leave despite the fact the United States is the only industrialized country in the world that does not offer paid family leave.  Astonishingly this country ranks last in government supported time off for new parents.

“Paul Ryan is rightly concerned about his job’s impact on his spouse and children,” said Judy Conti, federal advocacy coordinator at the National Employment Law Project. “Yet [he] isn’t willing to guarantee that all workers… have the necessary tools to balance their work and family obligations.”

“For workers without paid family leave, taking time off to care for a new baby or a seriously ill loved one can have devastating long-term financial consequences, ranging from racking up credit card debt to raiding savings to bankruptcy,” Dina Bakst, co-founder and co-president of A Better Balance, told ABC News. “Paid family leave would provide a critical safety net for these working families in their times of need.”

Make no mistake Speaker Ryan will be pushing an agenda that is quite friendly to Multi Millionaires children at the expense of working families.  “My greatest worry is the consequence of not stepping up, of some day having my own kids ask me, ‘When the stakes were so high, why didn’t you do all you could? Why didn’t you stand and fight for my future when you had the chance?'” Ryan said to reporters. His children do not have to worry he will make life easier for children of the wealthy at every turn.

Speaker Ryan will try to dismantle the three of most popular parts of the federal government to continue the GOP fixation of shrinking government.

Speaker Ryan accepts millions of dollars from individuals and groups that will profit by turning medicare/medicaid into a voucher scheme and by the privatization of Social Security.  He targets for “reform” include vital government services like the US Postal Service, Social Security Administration, and Medicare/Medicaid all services that benefit ordinary Americans.  The wealthy have no need for a safety net. They want to profit by its demise.

Speaker Ryan will now play the role of con man daily on a national scale. He surely will be selling day for night.  We all must call him out on his continued  hypocrisy before our countries safety net vanishes.  Ryan and his fellow multi millionaire politicians are in politics for the wrong reason. They want to accelerate the wealth of the few at the expense of the many.

 

 

Granite State Rumblings: 10 Facts About Medicaid And It’s Impact On NH

Last Thursday marked the 50th anniversary of Medicaid — the public insurance program that provides health coverage to low-income families and individuals, including children, parents, pregnant women, seniors, and people with disabilities.  Here are 10 key facts about how Medicaid helps millions of Americans live healthier, more secure lives from our friends at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

  1. Medicaid provided quality health coverage for 80 million low-income Americans over the course of 2014.  In any given month, Medicaid served 31 million children, 19 million adults (mostly low-income working parents), 5 million seniors, and 9 million persons with disabilities, according to Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates.
  2. Medicaid has cut dramatically the number of Americans without health insurance.  Since the implementation of health reform’s major coverage expansions in 2014, Medicaid and the new health marketplaces have helped cut the number of uninsured Americans from 43 million to 26 million, RAND estimates.  By 2020, an estimated 14 million more adults and children will enroll in Medicaid and gain access to affordable health coverage.
  3. Medicaid participation is high.  Some 65.6 percent of low-income adults with children who are eligible for Medicaid are enrolled, according to the Urban Institute, a relatively strong participation rate compared to some other programs.  And evidence so far among states adopting health reform’s Medicaid expansion shows substantial increases in overall Medicaid enrollment, which indicates robust participation among expansion-eligible individuals.  In addition, 87.2 percent of eligible children participate in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, according to the Urban Institute.
  4. Medicaid has improved access to care for millions, including those with chronic conditions.  A landmark study of Oregon’s Medicaid program found that beneficiaries were 40 percent less likely to have suffered a decline in their health in the last six months than similar people without health insurance coverage.  They were also likelier to use preventive care (such as cholesterol screenings), to have a regular clinic where they could receive primary care, and to receive a diagnosis of and treatment for depression and diabetes.
  5. Medicaid provides significant financial support to low-income beneficiaries.  Medicaid lifted 2.6 million people out of poverty in 2010, equating to a 0.7 percentage-point drop in the poverty rate.  The program cut poverty most among adults with disabilities, children, seniors, African Americans, and Hispanics.  Research from Oregon’s Medicaid program also shows that beneficiaries were 40 percent less likely to go into medical debt or leave other bills unpaid in order to cover medical expenses, and that Medicaid coverage nearly eliminated catastrophic out-of-pocket medical costs.
  6. Medicaid produces long-term educational benefits for kids.  Children who are eligible for Medicaid do better in school and miss fewer school days due to illness or injury.  They‘re also likelier to finish high school, attend college, and graduate from college.  Kids who are eligible for Medicaid earn more as adults and experience fewer emergency room visits and hospitalizations, research shows.
  7. Medicaid is cost-effective.  Medicaid’s costs per beneficiary are substantially lower and have been growing more slowly than for private insurance. Medicaid provides more comprehensive benefits than private insurance at significantly lower out-of-pocket cost to beneficiaries, but its lower payment rates to health care providers and lower administrative costs make the program very efficient.
  8. Medicaid gives states flexibility to design their own programs.  The federal government sets minimum standards, including the categories of people that all states must cover.  Beyond that, states set their own rules, including whom they cover, what benefits they provide, and how they deliver health care services.  As a result, Medicaid eligibility varies substantially from state to state.  Moreover, states have taken advantage of Medicaid’s existing flexibility to improve beneficiary health outcomes while lowering costs by changing how health care is delivered.
  9. Health reform’s Medicaid expansion is saving states money.  The federal government will pay the entire cost of health care for newly eligible beneficiaries through 2016, and many states that have expanded Medicaid have found that it has produced net savings for their budgets.  States will spend just 1.6 percent more on Medicaid and CHIP with the expansion than they would have without health reform, CBO estimates.  Hospitals in expansion states are treating fewer uninsured patients, and the amount of uncompensated care they are providing is declining steeply.  Meanwhile, hospitals in the states that have not expanded Medicaid continue to provide large amounts of uncompensated care, and the states are missing the opportunity to leverage billions of dollars in new federal funding through the expansion.
  10. Medicaid expansion supports work.  Charges that health reform discourages poor families from working more don’t match reality.  In states that have adopted health reform’s Medicaid expansion, poor parents can earn substantially more and retain their Medicaid coverage.  In addition, some states have used their program flexibility to further encourage work overall among Medicaid beneficiaries by offering a set of supportive employment services.

You can learn more about how Medicaid improves access to health care, its long-term benefits, and why states should expand Medicaid at:  www.cbpp.org/medicaid-at-50

GROWING UP GRANITE 

Facts on Medicaid in New Hampshire

medicaid_newhampshire_7-9-15_2

  • Subscribe to the NH Labor News via Email

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 12,495 other subscribers

  • Advertisement

  • Advertisement