Governor Hassan Signs Bipartisan Health Care Expansion Legislation into Law

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Compromise Measure Accepts Federal Funds to Expand Health Care Access to 50,000 Granite Staters

2014-03-27 medicaid expansionCONCORD – Enacting the most significant measure in decades to strengthen the health of New Hampshire’s families and communities, Governor Maggie Hassan has signed into law SB 413, bipartisan legislation that accepts federal funds to expand access to health coverage to 50,000 Granite Staters.

“Our bipartisan health care expansion plan is a historic step forward for the health and financial well-being of Granite State families, businesses and communities,” Governor Hassan said. “It is a fiscally responsible, uniquely New Hampshire solution that will inject $2.5 billion in federal funds into our state’s economy and improve the lives of 50,000 hard-working people who deserve the security of health insurance.

“By reaching bipartisan consensus to expand health coverage, we have demonstrated again that, in New Hampshire, we are able to work across party lines to solve problems and make progress for our people and our economy,” Governor Hassan said.

The bipartisan plan will use federal Medicaid funds available through the Affordable Care Act to help New Hampshire citizens at or under 133 percent of the federal poverty level – around $16,000 for an individual – access health insurance. The plan will help reduce levels of uncompensated care at hospital emergency rooms, encourage primary and preventive care, and provide coverage for substance abuse and mental health treatment.

Under the health care expansion plan, if a qualifying individual has access to private coverage through an employer, he or she will be able to enroll in the employer-based coverage through the state’s Health Insurance Premium Payment (HIPP) program, which will pay for the individual’s premium and cost-sharing. For other eligible individuals, coverage will be available through a private managed care company beginning as soon as July 1, 2014.

Beginning in 2016, the plan moves the newly eligible individuals who are not participating in HIPP onto the state’s federally facilitated health insurance marketplace to purchase private coverage through a new premium assistance program funded by the federal government. Elements of the plan are subject to the state securing federal waivers from the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services.

“Helping low-income workers purchase private coverage through the health insurance marketplace will support our efforts to attract competition in order to improve affordability and increase choices for coverage for all New Hampshire citizens,” Governor Hassan said.

“I want to thank Senate President Morse, Speaker Norelli and all of the legislators from both parties who worked together to pass this legislation,” Governor Hassan said. “Our continued collaboration is essential throughout the federal-waiver and implementation process. We must continue to put ideology aside and focus on our common purpose and common vision in order to maximize the benefits of health care expansion for our people and our economy.”

“I’m so proud of our state legislators for working across the aisle to expand health coverage for some of our most vulnerable Granite Staters,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster.  “This bill will help ensure that another 50,000 Granite Staters will now have access to the health care services they need. I look forward to working on the federal level to help the state implement this expansion, which will improve our state’s overall economy by creating jobs, reducing uncompensated care at hospitals, and alleviating the cost burden on small businesses.”

“I want to congratulate Governor Hassan, President Morse, Senator Larsen, Speaker Norelli, and all those involved in this historic accomplishment,” said Senator Jeanne Shahhen.  “The legislation Governor Hassan signed into law this afternoon showcases just how much we can accomplish when we work together on behalf of the people of New Hampshire.  This bipartisan plan is not only great for our economy but for a countless number of people across our state, including the approximately 50,000 people who now stand to receive health care, and I remain committed to doing everything I can to assist New Hampshire implement this plan.”

Governor Hassan on Medicaid Expansion: “I look forward to signing this bill into law as quickly as possible”

Summer interns Aislinn (NHCA) and Chris (NARAL) stood up for Medicaid expansion at the State House on June 6th.

Summer interns Aislinn (NHCA) and Chris (NARAL) stood up for Medicaid expansion at the State House on June 6th.CONCORD – Following House passage today of SB 413, a bipartisan agreement to accept federal funds in order to expand access to health coverage, Governor Maggie Hassan released the following statement:

“Today’s House vote in favor of our bipartisan health care expansion plan will improve the health and financial well-being of more than 50,000 hard-working people who deserve the security of health insurance.

“By expanding access to health insurance, we will help reduce uncompensated care and cost-shifting on New Hampshire businesses, encourage cost-saving primary and preventive care, and provide substance abuse and mental health treatment to thousands while injecting $2.5 billion in federal funds into our state’s economy.

“This bipartisan plan is a uniquely New Hampshire solution and it exemplifies New Hampshire’s tradition of collective problem-solving, demonstrating what is possible when we remain focused on solutions and reach across the aisle to achieve progress for our people. I thank Speaker Norelli, Representatives Rosenwald and Sherman, and the House of Representatives for passing this important piece of legislation, as well as Senate President Morse and Senator Larsen for their leadership in the Senate to reach this compromise.

“I look forward to signing this bill into law as quickly as possible and to working with members of both parties throughout the implementation process in order to maximize the benefits of health care expansion for our people and economy.”

NH House Approves Bill to Extend Health Insurance to More than 50,000 Granite Staters

NH Senate Medicaid Vote 6-6-13 Inzane Times

NH Senate Medicaid Vote 6-6-13 Inzane TimesCONCORD, NH – In a show of bipartisan support, the House of Representatives today approved SB 413 by a vote of 202 to 132, enabling New Hampshire to accept federal funds to provide affordable health insurance to more than 50,000 low-income Granite Staters.

“Today is a great day for thousands of New Hampshire residents who will now, for the very first time, have access to affordable health care,” said Deb Fournier, policy analyst for the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute.

“Members of the House and Senate should be commended for their steadfast dedication and commitment to reaching a solution that works for everyone,” said Fournier. “By enabling the state to accept these federal funds, Legislators have made a fiscally responsible decision that will save millions in state budget costs and pave the way for millions of federal dollars to enter the state economy and benefit communities across the state.”

SB 413 is a bipartisan compromise which utilizes federal Medicaid funds to support a program of privately-delivered health insurance for low-income individuals. The compromise is the result of months of discussion and debate regarding how best to design a program that solves a critical health policy issue for New Hampshire.

SB 413 creates a three-stage Health Protection Program to extend affordable health insurance to low-income Granite Staters: the Health Insurance Premium Program, the Bridge to Marketplace Premium Assistance Program, and the Marketplace Premium Assistance Program. Federal funding will cover 100 percent of the costs associated with the Health Protection Program, which will be repealed at the end of 2016 unless future legislatures vote to extend it.

For more information, see the NHFPI Health Protection Program fact sheet.

 

Senate Republicans Put Ideology Over The Health Of 50,000 Granite Staters

Summer interns Aislinn (NHCA) and Chris (NARAL) stood up for Medicaid expansion at the State House on June 6th.

“Today, members of the Senate Republican caucus let down the people of New Hampshire by refusing to compromise to develop a health care expansion plan that would actually work,” Governor Hassan stated. “Their refusal to discuss workable plans to allow New Hampshire to accept $2.4 billion in federal funds to provide critical health coverage to more than 50,000 hard-working people undermines the health and economic well-being of our families and businesses.”

As you are already aware the NH Senate could not reach an agreement to expand the state’s Medicaid program, leaving thousands of low-income families to suffer without healthcare.

Governor Hassan continued:

“We offered Senate Republican leadership nearly everything they asked for; all we wanted was a plan that would actually work from day one and for the long term. But Senate Republicans refused to budge, putting ideology first and the people of New Hampshire second.

Our providers are ready for expanded health coverage, our businesses are ready, our people are ready, and I am ready. We will keep working and there will be more votes. I hope that at some point, a few Senate Republicans will set ideology aside and step forward to do what is right. Until then, it is the people who are hurt, and it is the people whom Senators must answer to.”

Governor Hassan was not the only one who was outraged by the Republicans in the Senate who chose to stand with the Americans For Prosperity, and other special interest groups, rather than stand up for their own constituents.

Zandra Rice-Hawkins the Executive Director of Granite State Progress released the following statement:

Nancy Stiles GSP

Image from Granite State Progress. You can share this image from Facebook and Twitter.

We condemn the ‘do nothing’ GOP Senate for turning its back on 58,000 lower income Granite Staters who would benefit from health care coverage. Republican State Senators like Nancy Stiles are leaving money on the table that could have covered New Hampshire families because they kowtowed to special interests instead of representing their constituents.”

“Policymakers heard loud and clear from constituents, health policy experts, and consumer advocates that expanding Medicaid was a win-win for New Hampshire families, hospitals, community health centers, and our overall budget and economy. But when wealthy special interests opposed to health care came knocking, too many politicians caved. Senate Republicans refused to acknowledge the incredible compromises offered by the Democrats for a bi-partisan plan, and instead stonewalled back to the position they’ve always held: that we should do nothing.”

State Senator Chuck Morse. Image from Granite State Progress.  You can share this image on Facebook and Twitter.

State Senator Chuck Morse. Image from Granite State Progress. You can share this image on Facebook and Twitter.

“Senate President Chuck Morse’s flowery speech imploring legislators to continue to work together on this issue and then the subsequent vote by Senate Republicans to close the special session without any plan for action demonstrates that this has all just been a show for them. Meanwhile, New Hampshire families are going without health care coverage when they most need it.”

Granite State Progress also released a short video of a people talking about their real life problems in accessing healthcare and Greg Moore the State Director of the Americans For Prosperity calling them a ‘problem’.

The fight to provide healthcare to over 50,000 low-income families in New Hampshire is not over.  The Senate Democrats and the Governor vowed to continue their efforts.  “Senate Democrats will continue to fight for accepting Federal funds and expanding health coverage for thousands of the hard-working Granite Staters from Hampton to Hanover and Salem to Stewartstown,” said Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen.

Why do the Senate Republicans want to continue to be a donor state with our federal tax dollars while low-income families are suffering?  We could use the tax money we are already paying to help these working families acquire healthcare, making them happier and healthier members of our community.

Special Session On Medicaid Expansion Tomorrow. Sen Larson Says There Is Still Work To Be Done

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The debate over expanding Medicaid to over 50,000 Granite Staters in New Hampshire is coming to a head.  Legislators will meet for a special session, hopefully to vote on the expansion.   Legislators need to reach an agreement now so we can begin the expansion on January 1st.

The issue is that there is two different plans for the expansion in the Senate. While there has been compromise on both sides, the GOP in the Senate is refusing to take the final step to seal the deal.

Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen released the following statement on behalf of the Senate Democratic Caucus:

“We continue to be open to accepting constructive ideas that will create a functioning system to get people coverage and we recognize Senate Republicans for continuing to seek ways to strengthen the health and financial well-being of hard-working families by expanding healthcare coverage to over 50,000 of our residents.”

“But a health insurance plan that fails before it gets started, that doesn’t work, like the Senate Republican plan, is not a plan at all. Senate Democrats will not vote for the Republican Senate bill that fails the people of New Hampshire and forces thousands to lose coverage, all to meet an artificial, politically-imposed timeline.”

“The Governor and Democrats in the Legislature have offered a significant compromise. Now it is time for our Republican colleagues in the Senate to be willing to compromise and work with us on a plan that can be implemented with a timeline that our insurance providers, health providers and federal oversight agencies agree can be rolled out responsibly. Despite how far we’ve come, despite how close our proposals are, Senate Republicans refuse to consider any timeline other than the unworkable plan in their bill.”

“Ideology does not separate these two bills, it’s practicality. The Republican Senate bill doesn’t work, we look forward to negotiating constructively to develop realistic deadlines.”

You can help make your voice heard on the expansion of Medicaid.  The New Hampshire Citizens Alliance is hosting a Medicaid Expansion lobby day at the State House tomorrow.  Be at the State House at 9:30 am tomorrow (11/21).  As your Representatives and Senators come into the special session take a moment and tell them you want them to support the expansion.

If you cannot make it tomorrow, take a couple of minutes to contact your Representatives and Senators tonight to tell them how you feel.

Stand Up For Medicaid Expansion, Join Us At The State House

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Below is a special message from MaryLou Beaver, NH Campaign Director for Every Child Matters Education Fund.  They are working with the New Hampshire Citizens Alliance for Action to push for the expansion of Medicaid in New Hampshire.  

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This is it. After months (and months) of work, we’re down to the final public hearings. Your presence there on Tuesday – and committed efforts to recruit folks from your network for turnout and testimony – are essential. Our goal is to get over 200 supporters to the hearings – let’s make it happen!

The Medicaid expansion would offer coverage to all adults in NH, between the ages of 19 and 65, who are not currently eligible for Medicaid and whose incomes are up to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level: $15,400 a year for a single person and $32,000 for a family of four.

Do you know someone who falls into this category? A child care provider, a home health aide, a construction worker, a restaurant worker, a friend or relative? Ask them to come to Concord on Tuesday and support Medicaid Expansion. We are hoping for a strong show of support from Granite Staters who need and support Health Care options for all New Hampshire citizens.

Here are some details to help inform your planning efforts from our friends at NH Voices for Health:

Hearings & Lobby Day:

  1. There is no joint hearing – instead, there are separate bills and separate public hearings – on the same day.
  2. The House Finance Committee’s Public Hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, November 12th, at 10:00 a.m. in Reps Hall. There will be presentations for the first hour, so members of the public who want to testify will need to wait until around 11am.
  3. The Senate hearing is scheduled for the same day at 1:00 p.m. in State House Room 100.
  4. There will be a two-part Lobby Day at 4 Park Street.  The first part will run from 9:00-10:00am to help prepare folks who plan to attend the House hearing. The second part will be from noon-1pm for those who arrive later and plan to attend the Senate hearing. As always, folks can practice testimony, pick up fact sheets and Support Medicaid Expansion stickers, and walk over to the State House in good company.

Here’s the FB page for Lobby Day – please share it.

Coordinating Testimony:

  1. As there have been several public hearings on Medicaid expansion – there is a pressing need for new voices (voices we have already heard from are welcome too, but new voices will be appreciated by the media). To that end, we need real, compelling stories from folks who would benefit from the expansion – and those who treat or otherwise help or work with them (nurses, docs, etc.).
  2. Encourage recruits to share personal stories, not policy talking points.
  3. Keep testimony to 2-3 minutes.
  4. If folks cannot spend the day over at the State House and must prioritize one hearing – please send them to the Senate hearing at 1pm.
  5. WEAR BLUE.
  6. If you are turning out a group of folks for testimony, please remind them that if they are not saying anything “new”, they should limit their remarks to the following and submit their written testimony: – name, town, thanks, expression of respect for limited time, statement of strong support for MedEx, and the ‘ask’
  7. Come prepared with highlighters/markers to markup parts of your volunteers’ testimonies based on preceding testimonies.
  8. Sit with volunteers in the hearing to better facilitate changes to testimonies and group coordination.
  9. **Need help preparing testimony? Email or call VOICES’ new Communications & Outreach Manager, Anne Saunders: anne@nhvoicesforhealth.org or (603.369.4767).

Social Media:

  1. VOICES will be live-tweeting from the hearings. Find us at @NHVoices4Health.
  2. We’ll be using the following hashtags: #NHCantWait and #MedicaidMatters
  3. Facebook event page for Lobby Day to share: https://www.facebook.com/events/1389025191337839/

As always, we all deeply appreciate your continued commitment to and energy on this. We are in the homestretch. . . let’s make it happen!

MaryLou Beaver
New Hampshire Campaign Director
Every Child Matters Education Fund

Governor Hassan and Senator Larsen On NH Legislature Special Session For Medicaid Expansion

Summer interns Aislinn (NHCA) and Chris (NARAL) stood up for Medicaid expansion at the State House on June 6th.
Summer interns Aislinn (NHCA) and Chris (NARAL) stood up for Medicaid expansion at the State House on June 6th.

Summer interns Aislinn (NHCA) and Chris (NARAL) stood up for Medicaid expansion at the State House on June 6th.

Today the special session of the State Legislature began to consider the expansion of Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act.

Governor Hassan released the following statement:

“With more than $2.4 billion in federal funds available to expand Medicaid, we have a critical opportunity to improve the health and financial well-being of over 50,000 hard-working people while boosting our economy and creating hundreds of jobs.

“These are real people and families whose quality of life will be truly strengthened – working men and women, taxpayers, who deserve the security of health insurance. They are our healthcare workers, restaurant employees, construction workers, retail clerks. They work in our schools and local grocery stores. People who struggle to make ends meet and put food on the table while earning less than $16,000 a year. And when they need health care, without insurance those costs are shifted to all of our people and businesses. 

“For every day that we delay past January 1, we stand to lose at least half a million federal dollars per day that New Hampshire can never recover. Those are funds that Granite State taxpayers contributed to and that our people and economy need.

“After months of study, a bipartisan commission has designed a road map to a New Hampshire plan for Medicaid expansion. I commend Representative Sherman and House leadership for introducing a bill that builds on the study commission’s recommendations to provide a workable, fiscally responsible path forward that works for New Hampshire, protecting our state budget and encouraging private insurance. 

“I am also encouraged by Senate leadership’s constructive approach and willingness to work together toward a bipartisan agreement. I remain open to ideas to strengthen a New Hampshire plan, as long as those ideas are workable, cost effective, and in the best interest of our people. 

“We cannot let this opportunity for tens of thousands of our friends and neighbors pass us by. If we remained focused on the New Hampshire traditions of cooperation and bipartisan problem solving, we can do the right thing to boost our economy, strengthen our healthcare system, and improve the health and financial well-being of our working families.”

The Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen released the following statement on the opening of the special session:

“We strongly support the bipartisan commission plan to accept federal funds to provide health coverage to 50,000 hard-working, tax-paying New Hampshire citizens. This would bring us $2.4 billion in federal dollars – $340 million next year alone – grow the economy by almost $400 million and create 700 new jobs.  It will save our state’s budget $45 million over the next 7 years.  And it will save consumers $100 million in what they pay for health care.”

“This plan is practical and workable, and as result of bipartisan discussions it strongly emphasizes private coverage. It keeps people on private insurance if it is available from their employer. It gives everyone else an option to go into a private insurance plan in the Marketplace. And it moves anyone remaining into coverage through private, managed care organizations.”

“However, we understand that our colleagues in the Senate will propose some additional elements and still want to add further to the principle of getting people coverage using the private market.”

“We appreciate that the ideas that they are putting forward today represent a constructive starting point to continue discussions.   And we are willing to continue to listen to constructive, practical ideas.” 

“At the end of the day we are committed to making a bipartisan solution happen that delivers all of the economic, budgetary, and health benefits of expanded Medicaid.”

Senate GOP Medicaid Alternative Plan Makes No Sense

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Their alternative plan would mean higher costs, lower quality care, and unaffordable coverage

CONCORD – Today, Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen, House Majority Leader Steve Shurtleff, and Bi-State Primary Care Association President and CEO Tess Stack Kuenning held a conference call with members of the press to discuss the Senate Republican-endorsed alternative to expanding Medicaid.

The plan that Senate President Chuck Morse praised on Tuesday on behalf of Senate Republicans would turn down federal funds to expand Medicaid, and instead offer those who are below 100% of the federal poverty line (FPL, $11,490 for an individual in 2013) a plan with concierge primary care service and catastrophic coverage.

“This isn’t really a plan at all,” said Senator Larsen. “It would cost our state almost $3 billion more, only covers one quarter of the uninsured people that Medicaid includes, would give very poor coverage to those people, and that poor coverage would cost these folks more than half of their annual income so they could never afford it anyway.”

“So why would we pay much more to cover far fewer people with much worse coverage that they could never even afford?” added Larsen. “It makes no sense.”

Larsen pointed out that whereas expanded Medicaid would save the state about $45 million total between now and the end of 2021, the Senate Republican plan would cost the state $46 million each year, for a total cost of $368 million over the same 10 year period. And at the same time, the state would be foregoing $2.4 billion in federal funds, for a total loss to the state of almost $3 billion under the Senate Republican plan. The state would also lose out on almost $400 million in economic growth and 700 new jobs created under Medicaid expansion.

House Majority Leader Shurtleff noted that expanded Medicaid would cover an estimated 46,200 currently uninsured people, while the Senate Republican plan would cover 11,150 people, about one quarter as many. He also pointed out that the Senate Republican plan would cost people $6,362 out of pocket before they could even access coverage. So with people in this program making a maximum of $11,490 a year, they would be paying 55% of their income for coverage. By contrast, an individual covered under expanded Medicaid would pay no more than $793 a year.

“Does anyone think that someone making under $12,000 a year can afford more than $6,000 a year on health care coverage?” asked Shurtleff. “These are working people. They are people with low incomes. These are wait staff, janitors, school bus drivers, hairstylists, teachers’ aides, grocery store clerks, construction workers, and landscapers. These are taxpayers. They are playing by the rules. And they deserve access to high quality, comprehensive coverage that they can actually afford.”

Bi-State Primary Care Association President and CEO Tess Stack Kuenning explained that the Senate Republican alternative plan combines concierge primary care service with catastrophic coverage, but no other coverage. That covers minor medical needs and acute or emergency needs, but nothing in between. That means there is no coverage for a huge proportion of medical needs and conditions including medications, treatment for many chronic conditions, most mental health conditions, outpatient surgeries, substance abuse treatment, and any other procedures not requiring prolonged hospitalization. This plan is far worse than regular private coverage, Medicaid, or Medicare.

“I can tell you as an advocate for low-income people who need access to health care, this would be very poor, very limited coverage, especially compared to Medicaid,” said Kuenning. “In my experience in this state, Medicaid provides good coverage, good quality of care, and better outcomes for people. That is why my organization and every other provider organization in the state has supported expanded Medicaid as the best way to provide coverage and access for low-income working people. But I see no way that low income working people could afford this coverage, they probably wouldn’t want it, and it wouldn’t help drive down costs or make people significantly healthier in our state.”

“I believe that Senate President Morse is serious about working on this issue and recognizes the challenges we face as a state,” Senator Larsen concluded. “I think when he and his colleagues take a close look at this plan, they will agree that it doesn’t make sense. But we agree with them about finding an approach that works best for New Hampshire. We have supported some of the ideas to bring the private sector into Medicaid including by making it a managed care program, and we look forward to continuing to work with them to find the right approach to bringing in these federal funds, helping our state economy, growing jobs, and giving people access to affordable, high-quality coverage.”

The Tea Party’s ‘Penny Plan’: is it really to cut $1 trillion from seniors?

shiny_penny_by_stevendepolo_via_flikr

Teabaggers Descend on WashingtonRemember the health care Town Halls a few summers ago?  Remember all the Tea Party followers carrying “Keep Government Out of Medicare” picket signs?  Welcome to Round Two of the Craziness.

Tea Party leaders in the Senate are rolling out their “Penny Plan” to reduce the federal budget deficit.

The lawmakers are pitching the plan in the simplest terms — cutting a penny from every dollar the government spends so that spending will soon equal revenue.  “Everybody should be able to live with one percent less in order to help bring this country back from the brink of catastrophic failure,” bill sponsor and Wyoming Republican Sen. Mike Enzi said in submitting the legislation just before August recess.

And gosh, doesn’t that just sound totally reasonable?  Families all across America have been “making do” with a little less (sometimes a LOT less) lately.  So why can’t the federal government do the same?

Well, for starters, because the federal government already IS.  Remember the Sequester? That wasn’t just a one-time thing – it’s a 10-year schedule of increasingly tough budget cuts.  So, as the government plans for the next decade:

Already built into Congressional Budget Office assumptions is essentially a freeze in all government programs other than Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the other entitlements. That means that the 15 major executive departments and all of the independent agencies will be spending about 20 percent less after adjusting for inflation and population growth than they are spending now. As a result, we are already facing significant cutbacks in government services, ranging from food safety to law enforcement, air traffic control and national defense.

And now Tea Party legislators want to add their “Penny Plan” on top of the Sequester cuts.  That’s another trillion out of the federal budget.  Where do you suppose it’s going to come from?

If the FBI, the federal judiciary, the Federal Aviation Administration, NASA, the veterans medical program, the State Department, Customs and Border Patrol, the National Parks, cancer research, aid to local schools, and every other activity of every other department and independent agency of the government outside of defense was eliminated

… that would only account for about 60% of the cuts that would be required by the Penny Plan.

Don’t know about you, but I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for Tea Party legislators to cut defense spending.  [See 70 years of US defense spending, in one chart, here.]  Which leaves – yes, that’s right – “entitlements”.

Shiny Penny 2001 D Macro April 30, 20101The folks pitching the plan just talk about pennies.  But the bill itself singles out three programs that help senior citizens:  Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  (Remember that more than two-thirds of all nursing home/long-term care costs are paid by Medicaid, not Medicare or private insurance.)

I wonder what a trillion dollar cut to senior citizens would look like.  (Would it maybe look like all those “death panels” everyone was so worried about, a few years back?)

Here’s another reality check: the Penny Plan already has strong support among Republican legislators.  According to one count, 16 Senators and 65 Representatives support the Plan.  The list of Senators includes at least a couple of guys who want to run for President…

… and Senate Republicans have – at least so far – blocked efforts to appoint conference committee members to negotiate with the House regarding the FY14 budget.   The FY13 budget expires in five weeks.

And the Senate still has the filibuster.

It’s going to be an interesting next few months.  I hope that, this time around, the Tea Party’s followers are able to see beyond the “just a penny” rhetoric, to all the very real damage that this Plan would cause.

———

My phrase of the day is “ginning up”.  It means

  1. To create or arouse strong feelings in (someone); move or excite.
  2. To fabricate, invent or concoct (something), typically with deceitful intent.
  3. To quickly create something where time, not careful attention to detail, is of the essence.

Synonyms include: stir up, goad, whip up, fan the flames of, provoke, incite, and ignite.

Did you attend any of those health care Town Halls?  If so, you probably already know what this term means.

 

 

Right Wingers Attack Senator Shaheen Over The ACA

Image from Senator Shaheen's Website

With nearly a year and a half to go until the next major election, the mud is already flying.  This week, Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire went on the offensive against Senator Jeanne Shaheen.   Their $110,000 ad buy is focused on Senator Shaheen’s vote for the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare).

The Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire is a well know conservative group focused on blocking any and all parts of the ACA.  The have also been all around the state opposing the Medicaid Expansion.  Both the ACA and the proposed Medicaid expansion (which failed to pass the NH Senate today as I am writing this) is about helping those people who do not have insurance.

The ACA extends healthcare to millions of Americans who have no other choice. Millions of Americans are turn away from insurance providers because they have pre-existing conditions. These chronic diseases allow insurance companies to deny coverage to these people in their time of need.  The ACA expressly prohibits this type of activity.

According to the Nashua Telegraph the ad says:

“Now, employers may cut your weekly work hours from 40 to 29 to avoid the new taxes and penalties. Fewer hours. Less money. Tougher times. Tell Sen. Shaheen you can’t afford ObamaCare,” a narrator says.

Here is the truth, corporations have been doing this long before the ACA was even proposed.  Healthcare is one of the biggest costs to a company. This example that Citizens for a Strong NH is using is a corporate trend.  It is another example of distorting the truth.  New Hampshire is more of a small business state.  Over 90% of NH small businesses already provide healthcare to their employees.

The ACA is actually saving the government money and the new healthcare exchanges are showing direct savings to workers. Recently reports started to surface that the ACA has added two years to the Medicare trust fund. By closing the Medicare prescription drug loophole Medicare has saved over $20 million dollars alone. In New Hampshire that saved seniors an average of $660 per year.

People in California are excited because the cost of healthcare under the ACA exchange is coming in lower than anyone ever expected.

“The most affordable silver-level plan is charging $276-a-month. The second-most affordable plan is charging $294. And all this is before subsidies. Someone making twice the poverty line, say, will only pay $104-a-month.”

Specifically New Hampshire have seen numerous benefits from the ACA already.  Over 100,000 Granite Staters have already qualified for tax credits to purchase healthcare they could not afford before. Countless thousands have been protected from lifetime limiting bans. Even more have received preventative care at no charge from their private insurance companies.

Yet with all of these positives conservative groups like this are determined to derail the program before it is fully implemented.  It seems that politics have become dirtier and dirtier with every passing election. Now we do not even have to be in an election season for right-wing   groups to begin their smear campaigns against one of New Hampshire’s most beloved politicians.