• Advertisement

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.”FT_13.12.11_parentalLeave

“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

Even After 50 Years Of Success, Politicians Are Still Trying To Destroy Medicare

CLKqvsPUEAE4gVI

President Johnson signs Medicare into law. Image by the LBJ Library

Today, we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Medicare, a critical lifeline for America’s seniors that is working. And thanks to the Affordable Care Act, that program will be solvent through 2030.

“Fourteen percent of Americans are over the age of 65. Thanks to Medicare, they have a high quality of life in retirement without sacrificing their standard of living or burdening their loved ones with medical bills,” said Richard Fiesta, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “Medicare is a success story. It’s improved and strengthened families, the U.S. health care system and the lives of older Americans and the disabled. We’re encouraging our retiree members to speak out to make sure that it is preserved for future generations.”

“Current and future retirees must be wary of those politicians who are seeking radical changes that would make it harder for seniors and disabled Americans to see a doctor or fill a prescription,” said Fiesta. “Telling our stories about the difference Medicare has made in families’ lives is important.”

But, just last week, we had a new reminder that Medicare, despite it’s success, is under attack by Republicans. Here in New Hampshire, Jeb Bush admitted that he wanted to “phase out” Medicare for future seniors. He even doubled down on his position after being challenged by a frustrated senior in Gorham (video here).

Jane Lang, Vice President of the NH Alliance for Retired Americans confronted Jeb Bush at a town hall meeting in Gorham, NH shortly after he announced his plans to “phase out Medicare.”

After the event, Lang and the NH Alliance for Retired Americans posted a statement:

“Medicare was created 50 years ago this month to ensure that older Americans, who are most in need of health care services, would not have to choose between a hospital stay and keeping a roof over their head.”

“Since then, all Americans have contributed to Medicare with the assumption that it would be there for them when they reached retirement age.”

“We will fight against any attempt to take away our earned health care benefits and make sure that older Americans know who is on our side, and who is not.”

Jeb Bush isn’t the only Republican that wants to end Medicare as we know it. Several, including Kelly Ayotte, tried to pass the Ryan budget, which would end the program as we know it, while at the same time increasing out-of-pocket costs for seniors.

Ayotte has voted three times for the Ryan Budget that would turn Medicare into a voucher program, which could rob over 450,000 seniors and soon-to-be seniors across New Hampshire of the benefits they’ve rightfully earned. [Vote 46, 3/21/13; Vote 98, 5/16/12; Vote 77, 5/25/11]

Every GOP presidential candidate wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which has helped to strengthen Medicare’s solvency for the future, while also saving seniors billions in prescription drug costs.

“As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Medicare as a successful program that hundreds of thousands of Granite Staters rely on for health care, it’s important to see what the Republican nominees for President have in store. Jeb Bush’s comments last week just adds another chapter to the long book of Republicans trying to destroy Medicare or turn it over to corporations. Nearly the entire Republican field supported Paul Ryan’s efforts to end Medicare as we know it. New Hampshire simply can’t afford Jeb Bush’s ideas to phase out Medicare,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley.

CLKLOG2W8AARwaJ

Leo W Gerard: The GOP Has Money To Kill

John Boehner and Mitch McConnell (FLIKR CC Peter Stevens)

John Boehner and Mitch McConnell (FLIKR CC Peter Stevens)

By Leo W Gerard, President of the United Steelworkers

Shock and awe describes the budgets issued last week by Republicans in the House and Senate. The shock is that the GOP never stops trying to destroy beloved programs like Medicare. Awe inspiring is their audacity in describing their killing plans as moral.

When the House released its budget last Tuesday, Georgia Republican Rep. Rob Woodall said, “A budget is a moral document; it talks about where your values are.” His chamber’s spending plan shows that Republicans highly value war and place no value on health care for America’s elderly, working poor and young adults.

The opposite of win-win, the GOP budgets are kill-kill. Despite the GOP’s successful demand in 2011 for spending caps, Republicans now want more money for the military. War kills, as too many families of troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan know. By contrast, Republicans gouge domestic spending, condemning Americans to die unnecessarily from untreated disease. The GOP intends to revoke the health insurance of tens of millions by repealing the Affordable Care Act, voucherizing Medicare and slashing Medicaid. The Republican plans mandate overtime for the Grim Reaper.

2015-03-22-1427043255-1264135-TheGOPHasMoneytoBurngraphic.jpg

Shock and awe was the euphemism the military used as it launched war in Iraq. The focus on fireworks obscured death and dismemberment on the ground. Republicans try the same gimmick with their 10-year budgets. They employ perky language to conceal the casualties they would cause.

The House GOP called its document “A Balanced Budget for a Stronger America.” Republicans see strength only in a fat military, not in healthy Americans. The House and Senate Republicans evade the sequester spending caps by giving an additional$38 billion to the military through a war account not subject to limits.

The euphemism House Republicans use to distract attention from the $150 billion they cut from Medicare is “premium care.” It’s a scheme to give less to seniors newly qualifying for Medicare. They’d voucherize Medicare for new qualifiers and call it “premium,” even though Americans have loudly protested and Congress has soundly rejected the scam every time Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin proposed it in the past.

What “premium care” really means is underfunded vouchers. Republicans cut money from Medicare then give seniors “vouchers” to buy their own health insurance on the open market. Americans know those cheap vouchers won’t cover the full cost, forcing seniors to pay thousands they don’t have each year for their doctors’ visits, arthritis medications and flu shots.  It’s really “premium uncare,” and Senate Republicans know that, so they didn’t propose it. They simply cut $430 billion from Medicare.

Enacted into law, the “premium uncare” scam would cost lives. As seniors delayed seeing doctors and scrimped on their diabetes and high blood pressure medication to save money, some would die. Sending grandma to an early grave is a price House Republicans are willing to pay.

Both the House and Senate Republican budgets would repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). That would cancel the health insurance of millions who got coverage through the ACA Medicaid expansion adopted by 29 states and the District of Columbia. It would cancel the health insurance of more than 16.4 million Americans who got covered through the exchanges and other ACA measures.  Altogether, the Obama administration estimates that the ACA repeal and broader Medicaid cuts proposed in the Republican budgets will deny health insurance to 37 million.

The ACA decreased the percentage of Americans without health insurance to 13.2.  Republicans, who offer no plan at all to replace the insurance they intend to seize, would increase the percentage of Americans without coverage back up to 20, where it was before the ACA.

Everyone would be affected. Without the ACA, insurers would once again be able to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions like asthma and diabetes. They’d once again be able to cap benefits so that sickly newborns and victims of recurring cancers would lose coverage. Insurers would dump the young adults that the ACA now covers under their parents’ plans to age 26.

More than 9,800 Americans would die unnecessarily each year if they could not get insurance through the Affordable Care Act. That’s the estimate that multiple public health scholars and the American Public Health Association provided to the U.S. Supreme Court as it considers overturning part of the law.  Other estimates of needless deaths are much higher.

The House and Senate GOP budgets also brutalize Medicaid funding, then turn the program over to the states to administer. After slashing $913 billion, the House GOP describes dumping the program on the states like this: “Our budget realigns the relationship the federal government has with states and local communities by respecting and restoring the principle of federalism.”

House Republicans “respect” the right of impoverished old and disabled people to try to survive without Medicaid insurance by eliminating funding for it. The Senate GOP was less “respectful,” slashing funding for Medicaid by only $400 billion and retaining coverage for low-income elderly and disabled people.

While asserting their budgeting morality, Republicans fail to mention that their “balanced” spending plans are propped up by $2 trillion in revenue from ACA taxesthat the GOP intends to repeal along with the ACA.  The GOP would use the money that it will magically receive from repealed health care taxes to pay for an additional $38 billion in military weapons in their magically balanced budgets.

The Republican budgets embody their values: they want tax dollars to kill, not heal.

The Future Of Social Security And Medicare Are At The Forefront This Election

New Hampshire senior citizens, their families, and neighbors should do their homework and vote in self-defense on November 4th!  Some candidates running for federal office are on record as supporting cuts to our Social Security and Medicare. They say our safety net is going broke. Some want these programs to go away completely, being replaced by vouchers and Wall Street accounts. Others propose cuts using the Chained Consumer Price Index, and repeal of the Affordable Care Act, including the prescription drug donut hole fix and no co-pay preventative care additions.

But Social Security is not going broke, and a few changes that would be good for all of us would be good for the Social Security Trust Fund as well: raise the minimum wage, enact paycheck equity laws at the federal level (thank you NH for doing this for women here), create more and better paying jobs, and raising or getting rid of the cap on the income that is subject to the FICA tax, now set at $117,000.  Each of these means not only more money for retiree earned benefits, but also more money in the trust fund today.

Medicare’s cost curve is bending down due in part to the changes in the Affordable Care Act. Costs for healthcare for everyone are not rising anywhere near as quickly, and as healthcare providers work for quality care rather than quantity care, costs will continue to ease. We can provide great preventative care and make sure that we aren’t getting procedures and prescriptions that we don’t need, and stay healthier longer.

One in five New Hampshire residents got Social Security benefits in 2013, bringing $4.1 billion dollars in income into our state.  Over 231,000 of us receive Medicare benefits, allowing us to remain healthy and contribute to our communities.

These earned benefits mean that families and communities do not have to worry about carrying the full cost of housing, food and healthcare for those who are retired or disabled. Before we had Social Security and Medicare, half the seniors in our country lived in poverty, and many died what we would consider today premature deaths. Families struggled to support those who could no longer work.

Today the income from these benefits is spent in our communities, supporting the businesses here. Without the income from Social Security and the healthcare savings from Medicare, how will our economy replace the customers with money to spend that provide the “demand” side of supply and demand?  Replacing the $4.1 billion dollars that comes from those 1 in every 5 New Hampshire residents isn’t going to be easy, and our state is growing older every year. Do we really want to do that to our economy?

Healthy and secure seniors provide many hours of volunteer time, the unpaid work that we depend on to run our municipalities, among other efforts. Our school boards, selectboards, planning boards, conservation commissions, and others are either paid a small stipend or serve for free.  Retirees volunteer in schools, at churches, and even as $100 a year legislators! Sometimes it seems that New Hampshire runs on volunteer power!

The New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans has joined our national Alliance in endorsing Senator Jeanne Shaheen, and Congresswomen Carol Shea-Porter and Ann McLane Kuster for re-election this November.  All three were endorsed for their work to preserve and protect our senior safety net for all New Hampshire citizens, retirees of today and our children and grandchildren.

Be sure you check out the candidates before you vote!  Look at voting records, if they have served before (http://retiredamericans.org/issues/congressional-voting-record).  See what they have said in this and past campaigns. Make sure you know who is really on our side and vote in self-defense!

Lucy Edwards

New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans

Governor Hassan Signs Bipartisan Health Care Expansion Legislation into Law

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.”

  • 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 218 other subscribers

  • Advertisement

  • Advertisement