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Granite State Rumblings: The Dire Consequences Of ACA Repeal In NH

Last week we took a broad look at what repeal of the Affordable Care Act could mean for Medicaid and CHIP. This week let’s dig a little further into what the repeal would mean to children.

Repeal of the ACA would have particularly dire consequences for the 4.4 million children who would become uninsured. Health insurance for children has long-term positive outcomes, such as reductions in infant mortality and childhood deaths, improved health, and reduced disability. But there are subtler effects, too: expanding health coverage for low-income children improves high school and postsecondary success, and also employment over the long haul. Plus, children’s life chances are improved when parents are able to get the care they need, like treatment for depression (which is widespread among low-income mothers of young children). In states that have expanded Medicaid under the ACA, many more parents have health insurance, making access to treatment for behavioral health or substance use disorders more available, which helps parents’ own health and improves outcomes for their children.  ~ Source: CLASP ~

10 Reasons Why Repealing the ACA Would Harm Kids

  1. If health reform were repealed, insurers would go back to denying coverage for children with pre-existing conditions. Parents of children with cancer, children born with a birth defect, children with asthma, special-needs kids, among others, would once again be unable to get coverage for their kids without the Affordable Care Act.
  2. Insurers would return to the practice of placing lifetime limits on coverage so that if a child is fortunate enough to beat leukemia when they are 8 they would be uninsurable if they face another serious illness later in life.
  3. Dependent children through age 26 would not be guaranteed access to coverage on their parents’ policy, leaving scores of young adults, including recent high school and college grads, back among the ranks of the uninsured.
  4. Insurers would not have to cover vision care services or eyeglasses for children even if it is impossible for a child to be successful in school if they can’t see
  5. Insurers also would not be required to cover dental care, a horrible return to the days when lack of coverage could cause a child to die from an infected tooth that could have been addressed for about 100.
  6. Repealing health reform would jeopardize the future of the successful Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a federal-state program that offers low or no-cost coverage for families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to buy their own coverage. CHIP and Medicaid were crucial for families during the recession, ensuring that coverage for kids remained stable despite the downturn in the economy.
  7. Children with terminal illnesses would be returned to the days when they would not be able to get compassionate end-of-life hospice care unless they agreed to forgo looking for a cure for their illness.
  8. Insurers would be allowed to resume the practice of charging co-payments for preventive health services, including essential well-baby and well-child visits, and vaccinations, creating financial disincentives for parents to get care for their children that keeps them healthy.
  9. Children in foster care would no longer qualify for Medicaid beyond age 18. This provision parallels the one enabling young adults to remain on their parents’ health plans until they turn 26.
  10. Efforts to eliminate bureaucratic red tape and streamline enrollment processes for children who are already eligible but not enrolled in public health coverage would suffer if health reform was repealed. Nearly two-thirds of children who are uninsured actually qualify for coverage but face significant barriers that make it difficult for them to sign-up or re-enroll for coverage.

As we explained last week, through the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) have worked in unison to dramatically cut the ranks of the uninsured across the country. CHIP has provided coverage to the almost eight million children whose families currently or once lived in the coverage gap. 

Because of the options available under the ACA the percentage of uninsured children has dropped from 14.9 percent in 1997 to just 4.8 percent in 2015 — a 68 percent reduction. That is impressive! 

Medicaid and CHIP have also been an option for many parents who can participate in a health insurance option through their employers, but because of costs associated with employer based coverage have turned instead to these programs.

Michelle Andrews with Kaiser Health News, a national health policy news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation wrote about this in a recent article.

Many Parents With Job-Based Coverage Still Turn To Medicaid, CHIP To Insure Kids

By Michelle Andrews, December 9, 2016

Lower income parents who have health insurance through their employers are increasingly likely to forgo family coverage and enroll their kids in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) instead, a new study found. Working families’ growing reliance on these programs is something lawmakers should keep in mind when they consider whether to renew financing for the CHIP program in 2017, the study’s lead author said.

“These aren’t just safety net programs for uninsured families,” said Douglas Strane, a clinical research associate at PolicyLab at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the lead author of the study, which appeared in the December issue of Health Affairs. “If CHIP isn’t renewed, we could place substantial pressure on working families.”

Medicaid is the state-federal program that provides health coverage for low-income adults and children. CHIP provides health insurance for children in families whose incomes are modest but too high to qualify for Medicaid. In 2016, only three states — Arizona, Idaho and North Dakota — limited Medicaid/CHIP coverage to children whose families have incomes less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level ($40,320 for a family of three). In contrast, 19 states offered coverage to children with family incomes greater than 300 percent of the federal poverty level ($60,480 for a three-person family), according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

Medicaid/CHIP out-of-pocket costs vary by state, but coverage is generally significantly less expensive than employer coverage.

Health Affairs study analyzed data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey between 2008 and 2013 for families with incomes between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level in which at least one parent had employer-sponsored coverage. The study predated the opening of the health law’s marketplaces, but the researchers said that because these families had employer-based coverage options, they would likely not qualify for less expensive coverage on the exchanges.

Over the course of the study, nearly all the families in which a parent was offered coverage accepted it for the parent, and about three-quarters of children in the sample were covered by their parents’ employer-sponsored plan, on average.

But the proportion of kids who lacked employer-sponsored coverage even though at least one parent had it grew from 22.5 percent in 2008 to 25 percent in 2013, the study found. Likewise, the percentage of children who were on Medicaid or CHIP even though at least one parent had coverage through an employer increased 3.1 percentage points, to 15.2 percent, over the course of the study.

Premium increases for employer-sponsored coverage may put a family plan out of reach for low- and moderate-income families, said Strane. Between 2006 and 2016 premiums rose 58 percent for family coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s 2016 annual survey of employer-sponsored coverage. This year, families pay $5,277 for coverage on average, 29 percent of the total cost of the plan. Workers’ share of the premium grew 78 percent over the past decade, outpacing the growth in premiums, according to the KFF study.

“They did the math and likely figured CHIP was going to save them money,” said Strane.

There is a lot at stake for children and families as the plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act moves forward. And we need your help!

Personal stories are the most powerful tools we have in our fight to protect access to affordable, high-quality healthcare for all children and their families. By telling your story in support of CHIP, Medicaid and the consumer protections gained under the Affordable Care Act, you help put a face to how kids and families will be impacted by the threat to repeal the Affordable Care Act and dismantle Medicaid and CHIP.

Every Child Matters in NH and Maine are collecting stories from those who have benefitted from Medicaid and CHIP.

Please share this link and help us collect real life stories that we will share with our members of Congress and the new Administration in Washington. We have the data; now we need your story!

Impact of the Affordable Care Act in New Hampshire

Thousands of Granite Staters have gained coverage, and hundreds of thousands more have had their coverage substantially improved.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released an extensive compilation of state-level data illustrating the substantial improvements in health care for all Americans over the last six years. The data show that the uninsured rate in New Hampshire has fallen by 43 percent since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was enacted in 2010, translating into 63,000 Granite Staters gaining coverage. And, in addition to residents who would otherwise be uninsured, hundreds of thousands more Granite Staters with employer, Medicaid, individual market, or Medicare coverage have also benefited from new protections as a result of the law.

“As our nation debates changes to the health care system, it’s important to take stock of where we are today compared to where we were before the Affordable Care Act,” said Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. “Whether New Hampshirites get coverage through an employer, Medicaid, the individual market, or Medicare, they have better health coverage and care today as a result of the ACA. Millions of Americans with all types of coverage have a stake in the future of health reform. We need to build on our progress and continue to improve health care access, quality, and affordability, not move our system backward.”

Highlights of the data release include:

Employer Coverage: 853,000 people in New Hampshire are covered through employer-sponsored health plans. Since the ACA was enacted in 2010, this group has seen:

  • An end to annual and lifetime limits: Before the ACA, 545,000 Granite Staters with employer or individual market coverage had a lifetime limit on their insurance policy. That meant their coverage could end exactly when they needed it most. The ACA prohibits annual and lifetime limits on policies, so all New Hampshirites with employer plans now have coverage that’s there when they need it.
  • Young adults covered until age 26: An estimated 9,000 young adults in New Hampshire have benefited from the ACA provision that allows kids to stay on their parents’ health insurance up to age 26.
  • Free preventive care: Under the ACA, health plans must cover preventive services — like flu shots, cancer screenings, contraception, and mammograms – at no extra cost to consumers. This provision benefits 690,524 people in New Hampshire, most of whom have employer coverage.
  • Slower premium growth: The average premium for New Hampshire families with employer coverage grew 4.8 percent per year from 2010-2015, compared with 7.3 percent over the previous decade. Assuming New Hampshire premiums grew in line with the national average in 2016, family premiums in New Hampshire are $3,300 lower today than if growth had matched the pre-ACA decade.
  • Better value through the 80/20 rule: Because of the ACA, health insurance companies must spend at least 80 cents of each premium dollar on health care or care improvements, rather than administrative costs like salaries or marketing, or else give consumers a refund. Granite Staters with employer coverage have received $2,264,293 in insurance refunds since 2012.

Medicaid: 189,429 people in New Hampshire are covered by Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, including 94,622 children and 20,839 seniors and people with disabilities covered by both Medicaid and Medicare. The ACA expanded Medicaid eligibility and strengthened the program for those already eligible.

  • 22,000 Granite Staters have gained coverage through Medicaid: An estimated 22,000 New Hampshire residents have health insurance today because New Hampshire expanded Medicaid under the ACA. Coverage improves access to care, financial security, and health, resulting in an estimated 3,000 more Granite Staters getting all needed care, 3,200 fewer Granite Staters struggling to pay medical bills, and 30 avoided deaths each year.
  • Thousands of Granite Staters with a mental illness or substance use disorder are getting care: Thanks to expansion and improved access to treatment, an estimated 2,000 fewer Granite Staters are experiencing symptoms of depression.
  • New Hampshire is saving millions in uncompensated care costs: Instead of spending $20 million on uncompensated care, which increases costs for everyone, New Hampshire is getting $210 million in federal support to provide low-income adults with much needed coverage.
  • Children, people with disabilities, and seniors can more easily access Medicaid coverage: The ACA streamlined Medicaid eligibility processes, eliminating hurdles so that vulnerable Granite Staters could more easily access and maintain coverage.
  • New Hampshire is improving behavioral health: Under the ACA, CMS is helping New Hampshire link payments with improved outcomes for beneficiaries with co-morbid conditions; customize expansions/ enhancements to specific populations; and spread integration efforts to new areas of the state.

Individual market: 49,114 people in New Hampshire have coverage through the Marketplace. Individual market coverage is dramatically better compared to before the ACA:

  • No discrimination based on pre-existing conditions: Up to 597,050 people in New Hampshire have a pre-existing health condition. Before the ACA, these Granite Staters could have been denied coverage or charged an exorbitant price if they needed individual market coverage. Now, health insurance companies cannot refuse coverage or charge people more because of pre-existing conditions.
  • Tax credits available to help pay for coverage: Before the ACA, only those with employer coverage generally got tax benefits to help pay for health insurance. Now, 31,151 moderate- and middle-income Granite State resudents receive tax credits averaging $261 per month to help them get covered through HealthCare.gov.
  • Women pay the same as men: Before the ACA, women were often charged more than men just because of their gender. That is now illegal thanks to the ACA, protecting roughly half the people of New Hampshire.
  • Greater transparency and choice: Before the ACA, it was virtually impossible for consumers to effectively compare insurance plan prices and shop for the best value. Under the ACA, New Hampshire has received $9 million in federal funding to provide a more transparent marketplace where consumers can easily compare plans, choosing among 32 plans on average.

Medicare: 275,803 people in New Hampshire are covered by Medicare. The ACA strengthened the Medicare Trust Fund, extending its life by over a decade. In addition, Medicare enrollees have benefited from:

  • Lower costs for prescription drugs: Because the ACA is closing the prescription drug donut hole, 21,026 New Hampshire seniors are saving $22 million on drugs in 2015, an average of $1,047 per beneficiary.
  • Free preventive services: The ACA added coverage of an annual wellness visit and eliminated cost-sharing for recommended preventive services such as cancer screenings. In 2015, 176,282 New Hampshire seniors, or 74 percent of all New Hampshire seniors enrolled in Medicare Part B, took advantage of at least one free preventive service.
  • Fewer hospital mistakes: The ACA introduced new incentives for hospitals to avoid preventable patient harms and avoidable readmissions. Hospital readmissions for New Hampshire Medicare beneficiaries dropped 3 percent between 2010 and 2015, which translates into 152 times New Hampshire Medicare beneficiaries avoided an unnecessary return to the hospital in 2015. 
  • More coordinated care: The ACA encouraged groups of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers to come together to provide coordinated high-quality care to the Medicare patients they serve. 8 Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) in New Hampshire now offer Medicare beneficiaries the opportunity to receive higher quality, more coordinated care.

Content created by Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA)
Content last reviewed on December 13, 2016

From our friends at the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy: 

The future of our state depends on lawmakers acting now to enact policies that help New Hampshire become the best state to live, work and raise a family.

Join us Thursday, January 26 in Concord to make our voices heard. RSVP today to attend the Family Friendly Economy State House Day.

Together, we will make sure that our lawmakers act this year to establish paid family and medical leave insurance and make investments in child care so working families can make ends meet while caring for their families. 

Our day of activities will include a breakfast training, small group meetings with legislators, and a press conference to get our message out far and wide. Your voice is critical to our success.

Ahead of January 26, we’ll work with you to schedule a meeting in Concord with your legislator so you can share with them why it’s critical to your family’s future that they act to increase investment in quality child care and establish a family and medical leave insurance program in New Hampshire.

Your legislator needs to hear from you. Join us at our Family Friendly Economy State House Day. RSVP now to be a critical part of creating a brighter future for New Hampshire’s workforce!

Our state’s economic prosperity depends on keeping parents in the workforce and providing for the next generation – our children can’t wait. We must speak out. 

Thanks for your support,

Amanda Sears
Director, Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy

There are a few upcoming events in 2017 that I want to be sure are on your radar. 

Family Friendly Economy State House Day: January 26th 9am-1pm, Concord State House (114 N Main Street). You can find more information about it HERE.

The NH Children’s Trust 6th Annual Strengthening Families Summit is set for Tuesday, March 28th. You can find more information about it HERE.

Granite State Rumblings: Repeal Of ACA Hurts Granite Staters and The NH Women’s Day Of Action & Unity

Congress has already taken steps to begin the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. On Thursday the Senate voted 51-48 on the budget resolution, which includes instructions for nixing the Affordable Care Act, largely along a party-line vote. GOP Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) was the only Republican to vote against the resolution. On Friday the House of Representatives followed suit by a vote of 227-198. Altogether, only nine Republican lawmakers voted against it.

While it is possible that a repeal of the ACA could leave Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) untouched, and focus only on the private insurance side of the ACA, it doesn’t seem likely given the votes we saw in the Senate early last Thursday morning. 

Senate Democrats presented multiple amendments during the late-night “vote-a-rama,” (back-to-back roll call votes on numerous amendments), seeking to ensure continued access to coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, prevent any changes to Medicare, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and allow young adults to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans until they turn 26. 

Here are a few of the amendments that were blocked:

  • Protect people with pre-existing conditions

An amendment that would have made it harder to take away coverage from Americans with preexisting medical conditions. 52 million people — about 1 in 4 non-elderly Americans — have preexisting conditions. These Americans are more likely to face significant health costs, and before the Affordable Care Act, were often denied coverage entirely. The amendment also would have protected coverage for people disabilities or chronic health conditions, and prevent plans from discriminating based on health. Only two Republicans — Maine’s Susan Collins and Nevada’s Dean Heller — voted for the amendment.

  • Let young adults stay on their parents’ plan

Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin offered an amendment that would have made it easier for young people to stay on their parents’ health care plan until they are 26 — one of the most popular and effective provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Over 6 million young adults have gained health insurance since the law was implemented in 2010, and young Americans now report better physical and mental health. The provision is also overwhelmingly popular — 85 percent favor keeping young people on their parents’ insurance plans. Sens. Heller and Collins were the only two senators who bucked their party on this vote.

  • Ensure Medicaid expansion stays in place

Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act benefited 11 million low-income Americans in 2015 alone and has created thousands of jobs for direct care workers. An amendment by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) would have sought to continue Medicaid expansion.

  • Protect children on Medicaid or CHIP

An amendment was offered by Senator Brown (D-OH) that would ensure children could keep their health coverage on Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), both of which provide comprehensive health care services for children including key preventive and developmental care.

~ Source: Think Progress ~

Medicaid is a multi-generational program set up to protect our most vulnerable consumers at any stage in their lives. Under the ACA, Medicaid has expanded in many states to cover people in the coverage gap – those earning too much for traditional Medicaid but too little to qualify for tax credits in the Marketplace. 

Despite its complex features, Medicaid serves two basic functions: to insure low-income adults and children and to fund long-term services and supports for millions of adults and children with serious illnesses or disabilities who are at risk of impoverishment as a result of their health.    

~ Source: The Commonwealth Fund ~

Through the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) have worked in unison to dramatically cut the ranks of the uninsured across the country. CHIP has provided coverage to the almost eight million children whose families currently or once lived in the coverage gap. The percentage of uninsured children has dropped from 14.9 percent in 1997 to just 4.8 percent in 2015 — a 68 percent reduction. 

In addition to raising the mandatory financial eligibility standard for the Medicaid program for children ages 6 to 18 from 100 percent to 138 percent of poverty, the ACA provided five years of additional funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, while also increasing federal CHIP funding levels. CHIP provides coverage to children in families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. States can opt to use their CHIP allotments either to expand Medicaid, fund a separate CHIP program, or create a combination of the two approaches. In 2015 Congress continued CHIP funding through September 30, 2017

While there has been bipartisan support for CHIP, a repeal law could extend the program but make it much more restrictive, for example, by limiting eligibility to the poorest children and eliminating the enhanced funding now available to help states support their programs. This could result in a decrease in current services for children and would most assuredly cause uninsured numbers to rise.

The Affordable Care Act also created new options for coverage of freestanding birthing centers, family planning services, and hospice care for children covered under Medicaid or CHIP.

The ACA also gave special attention to young adults up to age 26 who previously had been in foster care by adding a provision to ensure they would qualify for coverage. This provision parallels the one enabling young adults to remain on their parents’ health plans until they turn 26.

Repeal will also have a devastating impact on children in foster care in the states. For children at risk of entering the foster care system, the ACA provides necessary supports to them through their parents.

Thanks to the ACA, many parents have health coverage, including access to substance use treatment and behavioral health services, for the first time. These services are at the front line of prevention, supporting parents in caring for their children. If Congress chooses to repeal the ACA without offering a more robust, accessible vehicle for health service, these parents will lose access to important, needed services.

Eva Marie Stahl from Community Catalyst writes that repeal of the ACA could lead to an increased number of children being removed from families following reunification because parents will lose access to vital behavioral services and supports. Preventing children from entering into a cycle of foster care means providing needed services and support to parents, ranging from substance use treatment and mental health services to parent coaching and housing support. The ACA is a vital part of the prevention framework – enabling families to access important health services before a crisis hits. It is an important tool needed to keep families strong.

There is a lot at stake for children and families as the plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act moves forward. And we need your help!

Personal stories are the most powerful tools we have in our fight to protect access to affordable, high-quality healthcare for all children. By telling your story in support of CHIP, Medicaid and the consumer protections gained under the Affordable Care Act, you help put a face to how kids and families will be impacted by the threat to repeal the Affordable Care Act and dismantle Medicaid and CHIP.

Every Child Matters in NH and Maine are collecting stories from the families whose children have benefitted from Medicaid and CHIP. Please share this link and help us collect real life stories that we will share with our members of Congress and the new Administration in Washington. 

GROWING UP GRANITE

On Saturday, January 21, 2017, we will unite at the New Hampshire State House in Concord in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington and in support of our rights, our safety, our health, our families, and our environment. Together, we will send a message to elected officials in New Hampshire and Washington, D.C. that we will stand together to protect the progress we’ve made. We won’t go back!

ALL ARE WELCOME. This is an inclusive day of action and unity. We believe in the strength possible when we act together and are committed to an inclusivity that will allow us to build unlikely coalitions among our diverse voices, guide us, and inspire us. Our aim is to solidify unity by bringing diverse voices together so that in the coming months and years of new national and state leadership, NO ONE is left behind.

PLEASE NOTE: We will be sending an email with more details on speakers and presenters, parking, logistics, etc. in advance of the event to anyone who signs up here with a valid email address. We will share information as it becomes available on our Facebook page. 

FAQS

When is the Day of Action & Unity?

Date: Saturday, January 21, 2017

Time: 10 AM – 3 PM

Program: 

10:00 New Hampshire Women’s Solidarity Rally for Action w/ keynote speaker Jodi Picoult at the State House Plaza (additional speaking program TBA)

11:30-1:15: Activist Training at Phenix Hall hosted by Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund – FULL

11:30: Drum Circle at the State House Plaza led by Julie Corey and Kathy Lowe. Everyone is welcome, please bring your own chair. 

11:30: Sharing food and conversation hosted by NH Unites at various locations (RSVP required)

1:30: New Hampshire Gathers for Unity at the State House Plaza (speaking program TBA)

Partner Organizations/Causes: ACLU of NH; American Friends Service Committee Program of NH; Equality Health Center; Every Child Matters in NH; Granite State Progress; Greater Manchester NAACP; Joan G. Lovering Health Center; League of Conservation Voters; Moms Clean Air Force; Moms Demand Action; MomsRising; NASW-NH; New Futures; NH AFL-CIO; NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees; NH Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy; NH Citizens Alliance for Action; NH Council of Churches; NH PublicHealth Assocation; NH Sierra Club; NH Unites; NH Women’s Foundation; NH Young Democrats; People for the American Way; Planned Parenthood NH Action Fund; The Multicultural Center at St. Anselm College; The Waysmeet Center; YWCA of New Hampshire; the Zonta Club of Concord

Why January 21?

Women’s marches and rallies are taking place on Saturday, January 21 across the nation and worldwide to send a message to our leaders that the United States of America stands for values of human decency, equal rights, and freedom from discrimination.

Why not march in D.C. instead?

You can, but many of us will not be able to make it to the march in Washington, D.C. due to logistics and costs. But we can come together in our local communities to march for our shared values. The Women’s March provides an international directory and statistics for all women’s marches on that day, including over 100 marches worldwide with 357,000 marchers currently registered. See “FIND YOUR MARCH” and search by state to locate an event near you. Visit the website for more details and information

Can I attend the NH Women’s Day of Action & Unity if I am not a woman?

Yes, everyone who believes that women’s rights are human rights is invited! We march for freedom, human rights, climate justice, racial justice, economic justice, and reproductive justice. 

Can NHWDAU accommodate people with disabilities?

Yes, this event is inclusive of people with disabilities. The State House lawn is wheelchair accessible, however, we cannot guarantee close parking. ASL translation will be provided at the event. If you have questions about accessibility, please contact nhrally2017@gmail.com.

Who can I reach out to if I want to volunteer?

If you are interested in volunteering, please contact nhrally2017@gmail.com and include in the subject “Volunteer on Jan 21”. 

How can I contact the organizer with any questions?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/186383368499010/

Email: nhrally2017@gmail.com or persechino.sara@gmail.com

Senator Hassan Presses Congressman Price on Harmful Impact of Repealing the Affordable Care Act

Price Also Refuses To Directly Answer On His Vote Against Measure to Protect Women From Being Fired or Penalized Because Of Their Reproductive Health Care Decisions

WASHINGTON – In today’s confirmation hearing for Congressman Tom Price, President-elect Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Senator Hassan repeatedly pressed Rep. Price on the harmful impact that repealing the Affordable Care Act would have on efforts to combat the substance abuse crisis.

Senator Hassan cited the story of a constituent named Ashley whom she met last week. Ashley is now in recovery from heroin addiction after she was able to get substance abuse treatment because of New Hampshire’s bipartisan Medicaid expansion plan. Under questioning from Senator Hassan, Rep. Price would not guarantee that Americans with substance use disorders who have gotten insurance through Medicaid expansion, just like Ashley did, would still be covered for these services if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.

Rep. Price also would not commit to continuing the requirement under the Affordable Care Act that health insurance companies must cover essential health benefits, including treatment for substance abuse. When speaking of the importance of requiring essential benefits such as primary care and substance abuse treatment, Senator Hassan said, “if insurance companies never offer it, [people] don’t have the option. They can pay good premium dollars, but it’s just not offered. And the Affordable Care Act said to the insurance industry, here are some basic things you have got to offer so that when a patient needs care, the coverage is there and they can get the care. And your answer and the Empowering Patients [First] Act would take that assurance away. It’s not an option if insurance doesn’t cover it.”

Senator Hassan also pressed Rep. Price on his record when it comes to women’s health. Rep. Price refused to directly answer on his vote to disapprove Washington, D.C.’s non-discrimination law, the Reproductive Health Non-discrimination Act, which protects women in Washington from being fired or penalized because of their reproductive health decisions. Despite Rep. Price’s statements to the contrary, his vote would have had the effect of allowing an employer to fire a woman for using birth control, being pregnant and unmarried, or for other decisions she makes about her own body and reproductive health.

Seniors Group And NH Congressional Delegation United Against ACA Repeal

The Alliance for Retired Americans join with Congresswomen Shea-Porter and Kuster in opposing the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

This week, Republicans in the US House took the first bold step to strip millions of Americans of their healthcare by repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Repealing the signature healthcare law would have significant impacts on all working people and seniors. Americans would see a massive jump in prescription drug prices as the ACA closed the “donut hole” in Medicare. People with pre-existing condition could once again be discriminated against leaving them unable to acquire any insurance at all. Families would no longer be able to cover their children up to age 25 and preventative care for women would no longer be covered.

Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, released the following:

“With today’s vote, 227 members of the House of Representatives started the process of eliminating many valuable and affordable health care benefits that American retirees rely on.

From free wellness checks and preventive screenings to lowering prescription drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries, to eliminating pre-existing conditions and limiting what older Americans not yet eligible for Medicare can be charged for insurance, the ACA has made health care better and more affordable for millions.

Depending on the actions of the House Committees that will take the next steps, all of these benefits are now in jeopardy.

The burden for developing a replacement plan that improves health care and keeps it affordable is on these members. Retirees are watching and will loudly defend the guaranteed Medicare and Medicaid health care benefits they have earned through a lifetime of hard work.

The price for health care in America is likely to rise quickly, to the detriment of millions of workers and retirees.”

The New Hampshire Congressional delegation is united in opposition to repealing the ACA.

“Today’s vote by House Republicans sets in motion a dangerous and irresponsible plan to strip health care coverage from millions of Americans, including 118,000 people in New Hampshire,” said Congresswoman Shea-Porter. “They broke their promise to American families – there is no replacement. New Hampshire families deserve better: Congress should work to build on the progress we’ve made so far, making health care more accessible and more affordable, instead of going back to the days before the ACA, when thousands of Granite Staters were locked out of coverage.”

“I am also profoundly disappointed that the Republican leadership in the House rejected my attempt to protect seniors and those with disabilities. Speaker Ryan is using procedural gimmicks to force repeal legislation through the House and destroy what we have accomplished: coverage for people with preexisting conditions, Medicaid expansion, adequate coverage for women and seniors, and no-cost preventive health care screenings and services. Protections for millions of Americans are being jeopardized for political purposes,” Shea-Porter added.

Repealing the Affordable Care Act would strip coverage from 118,000 people in New Hampshire, and 13,000 people in the state could lose their jobs.

In New Hampshire, the ACA:

  • Requires insurance providers to cover the 600,000 New Hampshire residents with preexisting conditions
  • Lowered the uninsured rate by 43%
  • Saved seniors an average of $1,047 on prescriptions
  • Provided substance abuse treatment services for 7,500 people
  • Covered 9,000 young adults on their parents’ health insurance

Shea-Porter offered her own amendment to protect the most vulnerable in our communities. Shea-Porter’s amendment stated that nothing in the Budget Resolution should allow for the denial of care based on patient age or disability.

Unfortunately, the Rules Committee refused to allow the House to vote on this common-sense proposal to protect our seniors and those with disabilities.

Shea-Porter has been a fierce advocate for keeping and improving the health care law. She successfully led the fight to close the Medicare Part D doughnut hole and save seniors thousands on prescription drug costs. While the House has voted repeatedly to destroy the law’s critical protections for all Americans, Shea-Porter has consistently voted to improve the law instead.

“It’s disappointing that Republicans in Congress have moved ahead with efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act without regard for the negative impact it will have on millions of Americans and thousands of Granite Staters,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “I’ve expressed my willingness to work across the aisle to make improvements to the law and foster a system that works for everyone. In the past, I have joined my Republican colleagues to make changes to the ACA, and I firmly believe that is the course we should follow.

“If the ACA is repealed, seniors on Medicare would see the costs of their prescription drugs increase. The Republican budget would also defund Planned Parenthood, reducing access to healthcare for thousands of Granite State women. In New Hampshire, one-in-ten of our friends and neighbors are benefiting from the ACA, and Medicaid expansion has improved access to mental health and addiction recovery services. Young adults are able to stay on their families’ plans and those with preexisting conditions cannot be denied coverage. We simply can’t jeopardize this progress,” Kuster added.

Kuster joined 30 of her colleagues in a letter to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, offering to be constructive partners in improving the law.

The repeal process is far from over and the fight has only begun.  We must stand united against that assault on working people and the Republicans plan to strip vital healthcare options from millions of Americans.

Planned Parenthood Of NH Pushes Back On Washington’s Attack On Women’s Health

Planned Parenthood NH Action Fund Launches #IStandwithPP Statewide Grassroots Campaign to Protect Women’s Health in Granite State

Activists Gird for Negative Impact on 12,000 Granite Staters, State’s Five Planned Parenthood Health Centers If Extreme Politicians in Washington Act to Restrict Women’s Health 

From Planned Parenthoot FLIKR

CONCORD, NH— Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund has joined the #IStandWithPlannedParenthood national grassroots campaign that includes 300 events in 47 states across the country.  Just last week, Speaker Ryan’s pledged to defund Planned Parenthood health services – a measure that would leave thousands of Granite Staters without care. The measure would prohibit the health care provider from receiving reimbursement for services, like cancer screenings and birth control, provided to patients insured by federal programs like Medicaid and Medicare. In effect, this blocks patients from accessing reproductive health care. Federal insurance programs do not cover abortion.

As a part of these efforts, Senators Shaheen and Hassan made their first joint New Hampshire appearance on Monday morning at a Planned Parenthood health center in Exeter, where they spoke with local patients and volunteers signaling their unwavering efforts to protect health care access for the 12,000 Granite Staters who rely on Planned Parenthood health centers for their care, and the 2.5 million women, men, and  young people across the country.

“Planned Parenthood’s patients are anxious about how they will get affordable reproductive and sexual health care if extreme politicians in Washington block access to birth control and preventive care at our health centers,” said Jennifer Frizzell, Vice President for Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund. “New Hampshire has among the lowest teen pregnancy and STI rates in the country and taking away access to birth control, cancer screenings, and reproductive health care will have dangerous consequences for the health of our citizens and for the well-being of our communities. We are grateful that our federal delegation knows how essential the services Planned Parenthood provides is and will fight to ensure women’s health care access is protected.” 

“The fundamental right of women to access health care is integral to the economic security and vitality of our families and communities, and Planned Parenthood provides critical primary and preventative health care services to thousands of New Hampshire women, including preventative care, birth control and cancer screenings,” Senator Hassan said. “It is outrageous that Speaker Ryan and Republicans in Washington would try to take away access to basic health services for women in New Hampshire and across the country, and I will continue fighting against any proposals that defund Planned Parenthood and undermine Granite Staters’ access to quality, affordable health care at providers they trust.” 

“Thousands of women in the Granite State rely on Planned Parenthood for vital preventative and primary health care services like breast cancer exams, diabetes screenings, and birth control services,” Senator Shaheen said. “Defunding Planned Parenthood would leave these women without access to critical preemptive care that they need in order to live healthy lives, care for their families, and lead in the workforce. This effort is another politically-motivated attack on women in New Hampshire and across the country, and I will not stand for it. Republican leadership in Congress does not have a mandate to take away women’s healthcare.” 

Image by Sarah Mirk (FLIKR CC)

 

Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund has many grassroots events planned in January to highlight the support for Planned Parenthood in the state and nationally.

Later this week, PPNHAF will kick off an ‘I Stand With Planned Parenthood’ statewide lawn sign drop. As of today, more than 200 Granite Staters have signed up to stand in solidarity with the state’s largest women’s health provider by placing a sign outside their homes. All weekend PPNHAF will be dropping signs off to supporters around the Seacoast area. 

On January 21st, PPNHAF will cohost a ‘NH Women’s Day of Action & Unity’ in Concord, NH. The ‘NH Women’s Day of Action & Unity’ will include a morning rally and afternoon advocate trainings. Hundreds of New Hampshire residents have RSVP’d to attend and are eager to voice their support for women’s health, equity, and justice in an era of uncertainty for Planned Parenthood and abortion access.

PPNHAF also plans to host three open mic “story slams” in coffee shops in Manchester, Portsmouth and Keene where women, men, and families can share the important role Planned Parenthood and reproductive health care access has played in their lives. The events will take place on January 26th and 27th at Book & Bar in Portsmouth on Thursday January 26th from 7-9pm, Brewbakers in Keene on Friday January 27th from 6-8pm and Studio 550 in Manchester on Friday January 27th from 7-9pm.

In the past two months, hundreds of people have signed up to volunteer in New Hampshire, mobilizing supporters to fight back against this effort to restrict access to health care. The events coincide with the launch of a new website, istandwithpp.org, directing supporters to take action by sending letters to their members of Congress, volunteering for Planned Parenthood, sharing their story, finding an event, or calling their senator. Since yesterday, 168,000 people signed a petition asking Congress to stand with Planned Parenthood against the attacks. 

The American people overwhelmingly support Planned Parenthood. Sixteen separate nationwide polls and nine polls in key swing states show strong favorability for Planned

Parenthood and strong opposition to efforts in Congress to block patients from accessing high-quality, often lifesaving care at Planned Parenthood. Additionally, a recent Politico-Harvard poll showed overwhelming support for Planned Parenthood, including from nearly half of self-identified Trump supporters.

On Sixth Anniversary, Affordable Care Act Providing Granite Staters with Access to Vital Care

obamacare ApprovedAyotte, Guinta, Washington Republicans Working to Repeal Life-Saving Law, Kick 50,000+ Granite Staters off Their Healthcare

Concord, N.H. –Since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law six years ago today, hundreds of thousands of Granite Staters have been helped by quality, affordable health insurance and countless others have benefitted from other provisions of the law.

From making sure that people with pre-existing conditions are able to get care and preventing women from being charged more for their insurance, to allowing young people to stay on their parents’ plans, delivering preventative care coverage, and expanding Medicaid for almost 50,000 people in New Hampshire, the Affordable Care Act has made a real difference in the lives of families across the Granite State.

Despite all of these important improvements in access to care for New Hampshire families, Kelly Ayotte, Frank Guinta, and Washington Republicans remain committed to repealing the Affordable Care Act, a move that would also end New Hampshire’s successful bipartisan Medicaid Expansion, kicking almost 50,000 Granite Staters out of their insurance. Experts say that this expansion is a vital tool in the fight against the deadly substance abuse epidemic ravaging the state.

Some key numbers about the Affordable Care Act’s impact in New Hampshire:

·      Under the Affordable Care Act, New Hampshire’s uninsured rate has fallen 5 points to 8.8%.

·      As many as 597,050 Granite Staters with preexisting conditions are now prohibited from being denied coverage—this includes 68,589 Granite State children.

·      545,000 New Hampshire residents benefit from the elimination of lifetime and annual caps on coverage.

·      58,876 more people in New Hampshire are covered under Medicaid or CHIP since the start of the Health Insurance Marketplace first open enrollment.

·      54,519 Granite Staters received rebates from their insurance companies last year because under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are required to provide rebates if the amount they spend on health benefits is too low as opposed to marketing.

·      191,570 Medicare beneficiaries in New Hampshire benefit from access to preventative care like cancer screenings without any out-of-pocket cost.

·      Approximately 1,700 Granite Staters accessed substance abuse treatment in 2015 through New Hampshire’s Medicaid Expansion, made possible through the Affordable Care Act. 

“Six years ago today, President Obama signed into law the Affordable Care Act, literally saving lives and dramatically improving access to health care for countless Granite Staters,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “Yet Washington Republicans like Kelly Ayotte and Frank Guinta want to pull the rug out from under vulnerable people by repealing this law and taking away their access to affordable health care. I thank our Democratic elected officials for their leadership in making this law a reality and their continued efforts to improve healthcare access and delivery for all.” 

Leo W Gerard: GOP Vows Sickness and Ill-Health

Paul Ryan (DonkeyHotey)

Paul Ryan (DonkeyHotey FLICKR)

The grandest and most majestic first act of 2016 by the Republican majority in Congress was to take a meat clever and sever 17 million Americans from their Affordable Care Act health insurance.

No chemo for you, cancer patients, the GOP declared. No plaster or slings for you, bone fracture victims, they sneered.

Precious few of the 17 million Americans whose health the GOP imperiled with this hard-hearted deed heard any panicked news about it, however. This made Republicans very, very sad because last week’s measure was the first in their 50 attempts to gut the Affordable Care Act to actually pass both the U.S. House and Senate. All of their other failed attempts had died in Congress. But this one, this one special bill, died Friday at the tip of President Obama’s veto pen. Still, it’s just as dead as the others. The bad, old insurance days won’t return.

In those bad, old, pre-Affordable Care Act days, health insurance was not working. Remember insurance companies throwing people off their plans when they got sick? Recall insurance companies denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions like diabetes and acne? There was that Medicare prescription plan donut hole that cost senior citizens thousands of dollars every year. And more and more employers were ditching health coverage for workers.

2016-01-10-1452442490-157501-ACAgraphic.jpg

Americans wanted it all fixed. The Affordable Care Act took a giant leap toward accomplishing that. Okay, it’s not perfect. It doesn’t cover everyone. But 17.6 million more Americans got insurance because of it. Young adults to age 26 can stay on their parents’ plans. The cost of drugs for seniors stuck in the donut hole declined, and the coverage gap disappears altogether in 2020. Insurance companies can’t dump the sick or deny them coverage.

It’s a different world. It’s one where tens of millions of Americans feel safer and more secure. They’ve got health insurance now. Or they know that if they lose their job, and along with it their employment-based insurance, they’ll be able now to buy coverage.

This world, though, makes Republicans squirm. They hate it when the government of the people, by the people does more for the people. To them, it’s bad enough that the people have gotten together and decided government should provide public schools for all children. Republicans believe private schools exclusively for those who can afford them would be just fine. Republicans believe those private security forces hired to guard gated communities could supplant public police departments, and places that couldn’t afford private forces would get no protection. They’d be happy with toll roads owned and operated by private corporations instead of freeways built by tax dollars.

Similarly, they’ve repeatedly proposed privatizing Medicare, the highly efficient, extremely popular, government-operated health insurance for the elderly. They opposed the national health insurance plan FDR proposed in 1939. And in the decades since then, they’ve killed every attempt by Democratic administrations, including President Bill Clinton’s, to provide some sort of national health plan. Many influential Republican leaders condemned Medicare, the national health plan serving only the elderly, when it passed in 1965. Those opponents included Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and George H.W. Bush.

Republicans don’t care that Americans love Medicare and desperately want the reassurance of access to health insurance during the decades before they turn 65. Republicans don’t care that citizens of every other major first-world nation provide this benefit to each other. Germany started doing it in 1883.

Republicans don’t believe citizens should provide services to each other through their government. And the GOP’s sworn mission is to destroy as many as they can.

In addition to cancelling insurance for 17 million Americans, the doomed Republican measure would have eliminated all federal funding – $450 million – for Planned Parenthood clinics across the country, the places that millions of poor women rely on for basic reproductive needs including annual exams and family planning.  No federal funding pays for abortions.

The GOP contended that it made up for that loss by providing $235 million for community health centers. That’s just about half of the Planned Parenthood funding. So apparently the GOP thought it was just fine to deny care to half of the women Planned Parenthood serves.

Republicans made no plans to deal with the loss of the Affordable Care Act, however. They’re claiming that they’d replace the act someday over the rainbow when they re-elect GOP majorities in both the U.S. House and Senate as well as elect a GOP President, after which they would actually be able to repeal the law.

There’s not any sort of replacement proposal now, however. None. GOP Speaker of the House Paul Ryan admits it. He claims Republicans will start talking about that soon. “Just wait,” he instructed when asked about plans.

Republicans have been trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act for five years. But they’ve made absolutely no effort to patch the massive gaping hole that would leave behind. They don’t want to.

They don’t believe in communities coming together to care for their members, whether that’s by providing public transit or access to health insurance.

They believe that Americans who get cancer in the richest country in the world and don’t have health insurance are on their own.

Will Ayotte Vote To Take Away Healthcare For 40,000 Granite Staters Again?

Will Kelly Ayotte Yet Again Vote To Defund Planned Parenthood and Repeal Health Coverage For 40,000 Granite Staters By Supporting Mitch McConnell’s Plan? 

In Midst of Substance Abuse Crisis, McConnell Plan Would Hurt Access To Treatment by Ending Medicaid Expansion 

Concord, N.H. – Last night, Mitch McConnell presented his plan to Senate Republicans to end health coverage for 40,000 Granite Staters provided by Medicaid Expansion while also defunding Planned Parenthood. Now the only question is whether Kelly Ayotte, one of McConnell’s “closest allies,” will vote yet again with her corporate special interest backers and her party’s far-right leadership against New Hampshire families or continue her effort to rewrite her real Washington record to save her political career.

Since going to Washington, Ayotte has voted four times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would also repeal New Hampshire’s successful, bipartisan Medicaid expansion plan that now covers tens of thousands of hard-working Granite Staters. Medicaid expansion includes coverage for substance abuse, making the program one of the most important pieces of the battle against heroin. And Ayotte has not only voted three times to defund Planned Parenthood, but she has also voted to eliminate funding for thousands of family planning centers across the country.  

“From voting repeatedly to repeal health coverage for tens of thousands of Granite Staters to voting over and over to defund Planned Parenthood, Kelly Ayotte has consistently sided with her corporate special interest backers like the Koch Brothers and her party’s far-right leadership against New Hampshire families,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “Whether Ayotte votes yet again to repeal health coverage and hurt access to women’s health care or continues trying to mislead voters and rewrite history, the truth about Ayotte’s real Washington record will be perfectly clear to New Hampshire voters next November.” 

For more on Kelly Ayotte’s real Washington record, visit AyotteFactCheck.com

The GOP In The US House Make Changes To The 30 Hr Work Week In ACA. They Could Not Be More Wrong

Image from NObamaNoMas on Flickr

Image from NObamaNoMas on Flickr

This week marked the six-month anniversary of the Healthcare.Gov and healthcare exchanges going live.  The anniversary also marks the closing of the first open enrollment period for people to sign up for healthcare under the Affordable Care Act.  To the surprise of everyone, the healthcare exchanges signed up over 7.1 million people.  Including the millions of young adults who now have continuing healthcare coverage under their parents plan, the White House estimates that the ACA has helped nearly 10 million people gain quality affordable healthcare.

Aside from the great news about the ACA, the GOP is going full bore in their attempts to derail the ACA.  This week the US House voted for the 55th time to repeal key provisions of the law in an attempt to dismantle it piece by piece. Not to mention that the 55 different attempts to repeal the ACA has cost us the taxpayers over $50 million dollars.

This week, House Republicans voted to change the ‘full time work’ provision of the ACA.  Under the ACA employers must provide access to health insurance to all employees who work full time, or more than 30 hours a week.  The new bill that House GOP passed, mostly along party lines, changes the definition of full time to those who work 40 hours a week or more.

This is in response to GOP legislators, like NH congressional candidate Gary Lambert who told a group of college students at Plymouth State University, that the ACA is “killing the 40 hour work week.”  They claim that by forcing employers to offer healthcare coverage to employees that work 30 hours a week, employers have reduced employee work hours to less than 30 hours.  Corporations are doing anything they can to avoid offering healthcare to their employees.

It is not Obamacare that decides how much somebody works, it’s the person who runs the company,” Rep. James McDermott (D-Wash.) told the Washington Post Thursday.

The GOP is bowing down to their corporate masters by changing the law to allow corporations to have employees work full time, and still not be required to offer employees healthcare.

The Washington Post also reported that President Obama has already issued a veto threat to this bill – which has a snowballs chance in hell of getting through the Senate – due the fact that over 1 million people would loose healthcare coverage from their employers pushing the number of uninsured Americans up another 500,000 if this bill passed.

This move by House Republicans’ is exactly the opposite of what we needs to be done.  If they are afraid that workers are going to loose their full time status because the ACA says full time is 30 hours a week, they should remove the provision completely.  They should pass a law that requires employers to offer healthcare to all employees, not just those that are ‘full time’.

This is exactly what the AFL-CIO has been calling for since the law was first passed, and reaffirmed their position in a convention resolution passed in 2013.

The labor movement has pushed for a requirement in the ACA that all employers assume responsibility for contributing toward the cost of health care for their employees….

We all know full well that the corporate lobbyists in Washington would never agree to this, and that means the GOP would never entertain an idea to make access to healthcare a requirement.

House Republicans will continue to work to repeal this law….” stated Speaker John Boehner in a recent press release.

Mark my words, the GOP is going to use the Affordable Care Act as the major theme in their mid-term campaign strategy. Just like they did in 2012, they are going to stump around telling people if they are elected they will repeal the ACA.

It has already begun. “On April 1st Gary Lambert made a trip to Plymouth State University to meet with students,” said Brandon Lemay a student from PSU who attended Lambert’s meet and greet. “When discussing why he should replace Representative Anne Kuster, he cited his opposition to Obamacare as a great reason to remove her.”

Former Senator Lambert is no different than the hundreds of Republicans in Washington who do not want make incremental changes to the ACA and make it better; they only want to repeal it.  Over 55 times, the House GOP has voted to repeal the ACA.   By repealing the law they want to kick the 10 million people off their new health insurance, allow insurance companies to deny coverage to people when they get sick, take away the option for young adults to stay on their parents’ plan, take away the mandate for insurance companies to fully cover preventative care, and remove the cap on insurance companies profits.

Do we really want to go back to the way it was before? No of course not, but the GOP is obsessed with moving our country backwards, rather than pushing forward. The GOP believes that voters are stupid. We know that if they were elected that they couldn’t repeal the ACA, and we also know that repealing the law would hurt millions of Americans.

“I think the recent comments by Senator Lambert, and many of those in the GOP, about the ACA, show just how out of touch they are with real Granite Staters,” said Brandon Lemay.

This repeal Obamacare campaign strategy works great, just ask Mitt Romney.

MLK A Devoted Labor Leader And Leader Against The Death Penalty

MLK’s First Campaign was against the Death Penalty

Bus segregation was not the first issue that grabbed the attention of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. when the young pastor moved to Montgomery, Alabama in 1954. His first campaign in his new home focused on a sentence of death for Jeremiah Reeves, a 16-year-old black boy convicted of raping a white woman, which512px-Martin_Luther_King_Jr_NYWTS_6-wikicommons became his first civil rights campaign in his new home. Reeves had confessed under duress, but later recanted, a claim widely believed in the black community. King joined the NAACP’s efforts to save Reeves’ life.

So did Claudette Colvin, like Reeves a student at Booker T. Washington High School. Colvin, who the next year would be arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a segregated bus nine months before Rosa Parks did the same thing, recalled, “Jeremiah Reeves’s arrest was the turning point of my life. That was when I and a lot of other students really started thinking about prejudice and racism. I was furious when I found out what had happened.” [1]

“In the years that [Reeves] sat in jail,” Dr. King wrote in Stride Toward Freedom, his book about the Montgomery movement, “several white men in Alabama had also been charged with rape; but their accusers were Negro girls. They were seldom arrested; if arrested, they were soon released by the Grand Jury; none was ever brought to trial.” [2]

Reeves was found guilty by an all-white jury and put to death on March 28, 1958.

A week later King addressed a “Prayer Pilgrimage” rally in front of the State Capitol building. “The issue before us now is not the innocence or guilt of Jeremiah Reeves,” King told a crowd of two thousand. “Even if he were guilty, it is the severity ad inequality of the penalty that constitutes the injustice. Full grown white men committing comparable crimes against Negro girls are rare ever punished, and are never given the death penalty or even a life sentence.”[3]

Such gerrymandered justice was a well established fact of life in the South, going back to the days of slavery when blacks were commonly executed or lynched for crimes that drew less harsh punishment — or none — when committed by whites. This discriminatory pattern continued after emancipation, as Stuart Banner documents in his book, The Death Penalty: An American History. “In the first half of the [twentieth] century,” he writes, “the southern states punished many crimes by death only if they were committed by blacks, in the second half of LR&Mark11-14-12 019the century they accomplished the same result by delegating to all-white juries the discretion to choose capital or noncapital punishment.”

“The death penalty was a means of racial control,” observes Banner, a UCLA law professor.

Sadly, the role played by race in decisions about the death penalty persists. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, recent studies “add to an overwhelming body of evidence that race plays a decisive role in the question of who lives and dies by execution in this country. Race influences which cases are chosen for capital prosecution and which prosecutors are allowed to make those decisions. Likewise, race affects the makeup of the juries which determine the sentence. Racial effects have been shown not just in isolated instances, but in virtually every state for which disparities have been estimated and over an extensive period of time.”

New Hampshire is a case in point.

Michael Addison was charged with capital murder for killing Michael Briggs, a police officer, in 2006.

John Brooks was charged with capital murder for hiring three men to assist him in killing Jack Reid, a handyman, in 2005.

The trials took place in adjacent counties in 2008.

Addison, a poor black man with a prior criminal record, was found guilty and sentenced to death.

Brooks, a white millionaire businessman, was found guilty but spared the death penalty.

Monica Foster, Brooks’ attorney, said of her client after the sentence was announced, “He’s not the kind of people juries routinely kill,”

Racial disparities in the use of the death penalty have been a focus of scholarly research for decades. According to Justin Levinson, Robert Smith, and Danielle Young, authors of a 2013 study, “The most consistent and robust finding in this literature is that even after controlling for dozens and sometimes hundreds of case-related variables, Americans who murder Whites are more likely to receive a death sentence than those who murder Blacks.” They note as well that “Black defendants are sentenced to death more frequently than White defendants, especially when the universe of studied cases is narrowed to include only those cases that result in aexecutejustice11-14-12capital trial.”

What Levinson, Smith, and Young found ought to be a wake-up call for anyone interested in the fairness of our judicial system. After studying 445 jury-eligible citizens in six states where the death penalty is most actively used, they concluded that “implicit racial bias does have an impact on the administration of the death penalty in America.”

“We found that death-qualified jurors implicitly valued White lives over Black lives by more rapidly associating White subjects with the concepts of ‘worth’ or ‘value’ and Black subjects with the concepts of ‘worthless’ or ‘expendable.’ This finding could potentially help to explain why real capital juries impose death sentences more regularly for White victims: at least at an implicit level we value White lives more than Black lives, and thus, perhaps, we seek to punish those individuals who have destroyed those whom we value most.”

The implications of this finding go far beyond the death penalty.

As for Dr. King, it is worth noting that his comments on the prosecution, conviction, and execution of Jeremiah Reeves did not directly reject capital punishment, just “the unequal justice of Southern courts.” As King matured into the leader we honor today, his critique of injustice deepened and blended with a prescription for change.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that,” he famously said.

“Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence,” King told the world on the day he received the Nobel Peace Prize. “Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”

The realization of King’s vision is far off. Abolition of the death penalty would be an excellent step in the right direction.

To get involved, join the NH Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

 


 

[1] Phillip Hoose, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, Farrar Straus Giroux, 2009, p. 23-24

[2] Martin Luther King, Jr., Stride Toward Freedom

[3] Martin Luther King, Jr., “Statement Delivered at the Prayer Pilgrimage Protesting the Electrocution of Jeremiah Reeves,” April 6, 1958

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