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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.”

NH Congressional Delegation Adamantly Opposes Trump’s Budget Proposal

Today, #45 released his disastrous budget proposal.  The budget slashes major departments and includes cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Education, Student Loan programs, repeals the ACA, and guts worker health & safety programs.

Even though, Candidate Trump promised not to make any cuts to Social Security and Medicare, it turns out he was lying.

After all the cuts, #45 proposes more tax cuts to the ultra wealth, like himself, and to multinational corporations who are hiding trillions of dollars overseas already.

“According to Mulvaney, the proposal looks ‘at the budget through the eyes of the taxpayer’ instead of those who receive benefits from federal programs.” (RawStory)

“If I can look you in the eye and say I’m going to take this money from you so I can help this injured vet, I can do that in good conscience,” Mulvaney continued. “I am a lot less comfortable to the point of not wanting to look you in the eye and say, ‘Look, I need to take this money from you to give to this person over here who really isn’t disabled but is getting a disabled benefit or this person over here who is supposed to use the money to go to school but isn’t actually going.” (RawStory)

The New Hampshire Congressional delegation is united in their opposition to these cuts.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen:

“The President’s budget is even worse for New Hampshire than initially feared,” said Shaheen. “This budget would be detrimental to the health and well-being of Granite Staters. Among its many reckless provisions this proposal would throw millions of Americans off of Medicaid, a key program in our fight against the opioid epidemic and in making sure our children and seniors have the care they need. It also cuts funding for other mental health and substance misuse treatment programs. All in all, this budget completely ignores the urgency of the opioid crisis and would pull the rug out from under New Hampshire’s efforts to combat it.

“This budget also continues the Trump administration’s campaign to roll back women’s rights by defunding Planned Parenthood, jeopardizing vital preventive healthcare for nearly 12,000 women in New Hampshire. In a further assault on New Hampshire families, the budget cuts the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Similarly, it’s dumbfounding that this budget eliminates low income heating assistance for thousands of New Hampshire families and seniors, and economic development for the North Country.

“Fortunately, there’s bipartisan agreement that this mindless proposal should be rejected by Congress. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I look forward to working across the aisle on bipartisan government funding legislation that will responsibly fund key programs that many Granite Staters depend on. The budget is a reflection of an administration’s priorities, and what is clear from this budget is that the Trump administration prioritizes tax cuts for the wealthy over New Hampshire children, seniors, and families.”

Senator Maggie Hassan

“President Trump’s budget proposal would directly undermine our economy and the ability of New Hampshire families to get ahead and stay ahead. This irresponsible proposal would jeopardize critical economic priorities and hurt job-creating businesses in order to pay for tax cuts for corporate special interests and an expensive and ineffective border wall. I am particularly disturbed to see cuts to programs that are essential to our efforts to combat the heroin, fentanyl, and opioid crisis. The drastic cuts to the Medicaid program in this proposal go above and beyond even the devastating cuts included in the Trumpcare bill, further hurting people struggling with substance use disorder, students who experience disabilities, and older Americans in nursing homes. President Trump’s proposed cuts to the Department of Education would also undermine our public education system and hurt efforts to develop the workforce our businesses need to thrive and grow. I will strongly fight this budget proposal and urge my colleagues to work across the aisle on a budget that strengthens our economy, invests in our businesses, and supports New Hampshire families.”

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01)

“A budget is a moral document, and this immoral budget does not reflect the values we share as Americans. The President’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget proposal would hurt students, working Americans, seniors, and our most vulnerable citizens by slashing health care, nutrition assistance, medical and scientific research, education, and other programs. President Trump’s budget reveals his true priorities: giving huge tax cuts to the wealthiest individuals and the biggest corporations.

“Today’s budget abandons the bipartisan progress we made earlier this month, when I voted for and the President signed an omnibus spending bill. As Congress works through the Fiscal Year 2018 budget process, I will fight against reckless and irresponsible cuts that target working families and our most vulnerable citizens; against the President’s proposal to balance the budget on the backs of working Americans and our seniors while giving the wealthiest even bigger tax cuts; against a new BRAC round; and for the priorities that were reflected in this year’s bipartisan omnibus bill.”

Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02)

“The budget proposal released today by President Trump confirms many of our worst fears about the priorities of his administration,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “This budget is cruel, shortsighted, and would be a disaster for efforts to strengthen the middle class. It would hurt hard working families and communities throughout New Hampshire and the country. From public education and student loans to economic development programs like Community Development Block Grants and the Northern Border Regional Commission, this budget would decimate programs for those who can least afford it. It would jeopardize clean air and water and our response to the opioid epidemic, all so that President Trump and his millionaire and billionaire friends can receive a massive tax giveaway. I’ll do everything in my power to fight the harmful elements of this budget and protect programs for Granite State veterans, seniors, and families.”

As if the above cuts were not enough already here are more details on the draconian cuts that Trump is proposing.

  • A $610 billion cut to Medicaid over 10 years, which combined with House-passed American Health Care Act cuts would slice total Medicaid funding almost in half by 2027. About 65 percent of nursing home residents are supported primarily by Medicaid;
  • A $5.8 billion cut to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP);
  • A $7 billion cut to National Institutes of Health (NIH), which provided $98.9 million in critical medical research funding in New Hampshire for Fiscal Year 2016, supporting approximately 1,300 jobs;
  • A 10.7% cut to the National Science Foundation, which provided 125 awards totaling approximately $42 million to New Hampshire institutions in Fiscal Year 2016;
  • A 31.4% cut to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), including cutting critical climate science research;
  • Authorization for a new round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC);
  • A 29% cut to State Department funding, crippling our nation’s ability to exert soft power and respond to humanitarian crises worldwide;
  • A $193 billion cut over 10 years to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which helped 93,302 Granite Staters afford food as of February 2017;
  • $72.5 billion cut from programs that support people with disabilities, including Social Security disability insurance;
  • Elimination of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a critical fuel assistance program for low-income households in New Hampshire;
  • A $143 billion cut over 10 years to student loan, financial aid and repayment programs that facilitate access to higher education;
  • A reversal of a proposed 95% cut to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). After reports indicated that the President’s budget would include severe ONDCP funding cuts, which the NH delegation has already opposed.

This immoral budget must not pass.  We need to stop trying to balance our national budget on the backs of working people and specifically by taking from those who need it the most.  We must stop this tax giveaway to the wealthiest Americans and corporations who already fail to pay their fair share of tax and hide profits overseas to avoid being taxed at all.

The government should be working together to help all of the people, not a select few of ultra wealth, (most likely Trump) campaign donors.

Shaheen, Hassan Join Senate Democrats to Introduce Student Loan Refinancing Legislation

Student loan debt has swelled to $1.4 trillion, surpassing total amount of credit card debt

Senator Jeanne Shaheen

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined 34 of their Democratic colleagues today to reintroduce the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act. The legislation would allow those with outstanding student loan debt to refinance at the interest rates offered to new federal borrowers in the 2016-2017 school year. A previous version of the bill was voted on in the 113th Congress, and every Senate Democrat and three Senate Republicans voted to move the bill forward.

“Throughout New Hampshire, Granite Staters are struggling with the increasing costs of higher education and it’s hurting students, their families and our economy,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “Students should be able to refinance their loans just like homeowners can refinance their mortgages. This legislation will help borrowers save thousands on their loans, continuing our effort to make college more affordable and help save students from a mountain of debt.”

Senator Maggie Hassan

“One of the biggest issues I hear about from students, families, and businesses across New Hampshire is the increasing burden of student loan debt,” said Senator Maggie Hassan. “This common-sense measure helps students struggling to make their loan payments by allowing students to refinance their loans at the current federal rate. We know that there is far more we must do to make higher education more affordable and to strengthen job training programs, and I will continue fighting to move this important legislation forward.”

Since the original bill was introduced in 2014, student loan debt has gone up more than $200 billion. In 2015, 70% of college seniors graduated with debt. And this year, more than one in four borrowers are in delinquency or in default on their student loans. One in seven borrowers defaults on federal student loans within three years of beginning repayment, and according to a recent analysis, a quarter of borrowers default over the life of their loans.

In addition to Shaheen and Hassan, original sponsors of the legislation in the Senate include Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

Yesterday, Congresswoman Annie Kuster announced her support for this legislation in the House.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter previously her support for this legislation.

Senator Hassan Delivers Floor Speech Highlighting Importance of Net Neutrality

 Speech Emphasizes Benefits of Net Neutrality to Granite State Entrepreneurs, Small Businesses, and Underrepresented Populations 

WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Maggie Hassan delivered remarks on the Senate floor, highlighting the importance of net neutrality to promoting innovation, supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses, and encouraging economic growth in New Hampshire and across the nation. The Senator also underlined the critical role of net neutrality in protecting consumers from unfair practices.

Senator Hassan delivered the speech in light of a vote the Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will take tomorrow on a notice of proposed rulemaking, which begins the unravelling of common-sense consumer protections that enhance the online experience for Internet users.

Net neutrality is the principle that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should provide equal access to all applications, content, platforms, and websites, and cannot discriminate against content or content providers by making certain web page, applications, or videos load faster or slower than others. The FCC adopted rules to provide a level playing field and protect against content discrimination, and these rules went into effect in June of 2015.

Key Quotes from Senator Hassan’s speech: 

  • “In giving entrepreneurs a level playing field to turn an idea into a thriving business that reaches a global audience, net neutrality helps promote innovation and boost economic growth.”
  • “Net neutrality isn’t just great for startups and entrepreneurs, it has also created a platform for traditionally underrepresented voices – including women and minorities – to be heard – and as importantly, to add to our economic strength.”
  • “The National Women’s March in January brought together hundreds of thousands of people to raise their voices and organize in marches across the country – and around the world – largely through online activism.”
  • “I will continue fighting to ensure that our regulatory environment is one that spurs innovation, fosters economic growth, supports our small businesses, and allows the next young person with a big idea to prosper.”

 

Click here for video:

 

Senator Hassan Co-Signs Letter On Importance Of Net Neutrality

Image by John Ward (Flikr CC)

Senators Hassan, Cantwell Lead Letter to FCC Chairman Highlighting Importance of Net Neutrality to Women Across America 

In letter, Senators urge Chairman to Reconsider Proposal
Undermining Online Protections for Consumers

WASHINGTON – Today, Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) led a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai highlighting the importance of net neutrality to women across America and urging him to reconsider the proposal he outlined last month to roll back critical online consumer protections by dismantling current net neutrality rules.

The letter was also signed by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Kamala Harris (D-CA).

“Net neutrality is particularly important to women, as it affords women-owned businesses and startups an even playing field when competing with more established brands and content,” the Senators wrote in the letter.

“The Internet is a powerful tool for civic engagement, as well as a means for economic and social mobility. We cannot overstate the importance of a free and open Internet to our nation’s economy, innovators, entrepreneurs, and consumers – including women and girls,” the Senators added. 

Net neutrality is the principle that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should provide equal access to all applications, content, platforms, and websites. The Federal Communications Commission adopted rules to provide a level playing field and protect against content discrimination, and these rules went into effect in June of 2015.

 

 

Click here or see below for the full text of the letter:

May 8, 2017

The Honorable Ajit Pai

Chairman

Federal Communications Commission

445 12th Street Southwest

Washington, DC 20554

 

Dear Chairman Pai:

 

We are extremely concerned by your recently announced proposal to roll back critical consumer protections by dismantling the Federal Communications Commission’s current net neutrality rules. This announcement comes mere weeks after President Trump and Congressional Republicans eliminated key online privacy protections for Americans. A free and open Internet is vital to ensuring a level playing field. By preventing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from discriminating and blocking content, net neutrality helps provide the opportunity for every voice to be heard and every business, no matter how small or new, to thrive.

Net neutrality is particularly important to women, as it affords women-owned businesses and startups an even playing field when competing with more established brands and content. Between 2007 and 2016, while the total number of firms increased by 9 percent, the number of women-owned firms increased by 45 percent – meaning that over this period the number of women-owned firms grew at a rate fully five times the national average.[1] This growth mirrors the emergence of the Internet as a platform for economic growth.  The online sales platform, Etsy, is another example of how women thrive under a free and open Internet. Under the current net neutrality regime, Etsy has empowered sellers in every state across the country, 87 percent of whom are women.[2]

An open Internet is also vital to providing a platform for elevating voices that are underrepresented or marginalized in traditional media, an experience many women in media know well. When turned away by traditional media outlets, many female creators have found a home and an audience for their stories on the open Internet. The vast array of online media platforms enabled by net neutrality give creators permission-less access to viewers, providing autonomy for women of every color and creed to tell rich, compelling stories in their own voices.

In addition, an open Internet has allowed women to organize and create positive change in their communities. This is exemplified by the National Women’s March, which took place in January of this year. Hundreds of thousands of people participated in this March in the United States, as well as abroad, and the movement was largely generated through online activism. The Internet is a powerful tool for civic engagement, as well as a means for economic and social mobility. We cannot overstate the importance of a free and open Internet to our nation’s economy, innovators, entrepreneurs, and consumers – including women and girls.

The net neutrality protections you seek to undo were adopted after a lengthy notice and comment period in which a record-setting 4 million people participated. These rules have withstood legal challenges, and despite claims from net neutrality opponents, investments in broadband have remained at record highs. We hope that you will listen to our constituents who oppose changing the free and open Internet to a “pay-to-play” system with Internet fast lanes and slow lanes. Rather than rolling back protections that help provide an essential platform to creators and innovators, we urge you to instead focus on finding ways to bring more American consumers online with faster and better quality broadband.

As champions of women and girls, the families they support, and their economic opportunities, we will continue to fight for Internet freedom and online fairness. Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

 

Senator Hassan Highlights Cuts To EPA At NH Based ReVision Energy

At ReVision Energy, Senator Hassan Highlights Harmful Impact of President Trump’s Proposed Budget Cuts on New Hampshire’s Renewable Energy Industry

Senator Hassan speaking with employees at ReVision Energy in Brentwood.

BRENTWOOD – Today, building on her efforts to create a more innovative and affordable clean energy future for New Hampshire’s people and businesses, Senator Maggie Hassan visited ReVision Energy, a solar energy company that is helping to create jobs and reduce New Hampshire’s carbon footprint while cutting energy costs for consumers.

The Senator toured the facility, met with employees, and emphasized how President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal programs that promote local renewable energy efforts would hurt New Hampshire’s people, businesses, and economy.

“ReVision Energy is helping to protect our environment while creating jobs and building a more innovative and affordable clean energy future for our people and businesses in the Granite State,” Senator Hassan said.  “Unfortunately, President Trump’s proposed budget undermines the important work of businesses like ReVision Energy, drastically cutting research programs at the EPA and the Department of Energy that focus on promoting energy efficiency and reducing our carbon footprint. I will continue to fight against these reckless cuts and work to achieve a cleaner environment and stronger energy future that will help our citizens, businesses, and economy thrive.”

ReVision Energy is working to build a cleaner, more innovative energy future in New Hampshire by leading the way in solar design, installation, and service for homes, businesses, municipal buildings, and nonprofits throughout the state and region. ReVision Energy is also a partner in the community-led effort, Energize 360, which encourages residents to measure, reduce, and renew energy use.

Senator Hassan has been a vocal opponent of President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to the EPA. Senator Hassan joined Senator Shaheen and others in sending a letter to the President expressing extreme concern over the cuts and the threat they pose to the EPA’s ability to protect public health and ensure that citizens have clean air and clean water.

Senator Hassan Joins Colleagues in Calling on President Trump to Protect Granite Staters from Higher Health Care Costs

Senator Urges President Trump to Protect Cost-Sharing Subsidies that Help Lower Health Care Costs for Hard-Working Granite Staters 

WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Maggie Hassan joined fellow members of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), including Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), in calling on President Trump to stop efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and to help stabilize the insurance market by protecting the cost-sharing subsidies under the Affordable Care Act that help lower health care costs for hard-working Granite Staters and Americans.

“As we have said, we stand ready to work on improvements to the law that would reduce costs for individuals and improve the stability of the market. But, we cannot work together on commonsense reforms without a strong commitment from your Administration to do no further harm and to halt efforts that have already begun to undermine access to affordable coverage,” the Senators wrote. “We urge you, again, to take action to protect and continue this vital financial assistance for our constituents and all of the health benefits that our families rely on today.” 

More than 6 million Americans enrolled in health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act receive cost-sharing subsidies to help reduce their out-of-pocket costs and deductibles. 

A lawsuit brought by Congressional Republicans, House v. Price (formerly House v. Burwell), seeks to stop ACA cost-sharing subsidies and raise out of pocket costs for hard-working American families. Instead of committing to protect the payments, President Trump and House Republicans further delayed action on this lawsuit – prolonging uncertainty for consumers and insurers – until May 22, 2017. President Trump could take action to halt these subsidy payments, which would force families to lose critical financial assistance and create instability for insurers that could result in plan cancellations.

“Failing to take immediate action to oppose the lawsuit or direct House Republicans to forgo this effort will increase instability in the insurance market, as insurers may choose not to participate in the marketplace in 2018,” the Senators added. “Most importantly, if your Administration stops these payments, it would immediately expose our families to higher insurance costs and could force them to forgo needed care.” 

Last week, Senator Hassan and Senator Shaheen joined their colleagues in urging President Trump and his administration to abandon efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act so that they can work together in a bipartisan fashion to improve the law and lower the cost of health care for all Granite Staters and Americans. 

The full text of the Senators’ letter available here and below.

Letter to Trump Re Cost Sharing

 

Hassan Joins Progressive Senators In Introducing Legislation To Bring Down Prescription Drug Prices

Proposal Improves Upon the Affordable Care Act By
Addressing Skyrocketing Drug Prices

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined Senator Al Franken (D-MN) and others in launching a major push to improve upon the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by bringing down the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs, one of the main reasons why health care costs for seniors and families are rising.

The Improving Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs Act would help ensure that drug companies put patients before profits and bring much-needed relief to families and seniors, including many who have had to make the impossible choice between paying for a life-saving drug and putting food on the table.

“It is long past time for Congress to put patients first by coming together and acting to lower the cost of prescription drugs,” said Senator Hassan. “This major piece of legislation helps ensure that seniors and families can afford the medication they need through common-sense steps including cracking down on bad actors who hike the cost of prescription drugs that have been on the market for years or who play games to prevent competition. I will continue working with anyone who’s serious about addressing the rising costs of prescription drugs and ensuring that all Americans can afford critical care.” 

The landmark proposal, which the Senators said they want to see included in upcoming legislative debates, seeks to tackle prescription drug costs by increasing transparency and accountability, boosting access and affordability of key drugs, spurring innovation, and increasing choice and competition.  

The Senators were joined in introducing this legislative package, which is supported by a wide range of organizations and patient advocacy groups, by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jeff Merkley (OR), Tom Udall (D-NM), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Cory Booker (D-NJ).

You can read more about the legislation by clicking here or reading below:

The Senators’ legislation is supported by:

  • The American Medical Student Association (AMSA)
  • AFSCME
  • Housing Works
  • MoveOn
  • National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare
  • National Physicians Alliance
  • Other98
  • PFAM: People of Faith for Access to Medicines
  • Public Citizen
  • Social Security Works
  • Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM)
  • AFT
  • Doctors for America
  • Center for Medicare Advocacy
  • Alliance for Retired Americans

Improving Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs Act

Title I: Transparency

Section 101: Drug manufacturer reporting.

To better understand how research and development costs, manufacturing and marketing costs, acquisitions, federal investments, revenues and sales, and other factors influence drug prices, this section requires drug manufacturers to disclose this information, by product, to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), who, in turn, will make it publicly available in a searchable format.

Section 102: Determining the public and private benefit of copayment coupons and other patient assistance programs.

To better understand how patient assistance programs affect drug prices and the extent to which drug makers are using independent charity assistance programs to drive up profits, this section requires independent charity assistance programs to disclose to the IRS the total amount of patient assistance provided to patients who are prescribed drugs manufactured by any contributor to the independent charity assistance program. It also requires a GAO study on the impact of patient assistance programs on prescription drug pricing and expenditures. 

Title II: Access and Affordability

Section 201: Negotiating fair prices for Medicare prescription drugs.

Medicare is one of the largest purchasers of prescription drugs in the country but, unlike Medicaid and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), it is not allowed to leverage its purchasing power to negotiate lower drug prices and bring down costs. This section would allow the Secretary of HHS to negotiate with drug companies to lower prescription drug prices, and directs the Secretary to prioritize negotiations on specialty and other high-priced drugs.

Section 202: Prescription drug price spikes.

Prescription drugs are priced in the United States according to whatever the market will bear and are sometimes subject to drastic and frequent price increases without apparent justification. This makes drugs increasingly unaffordable and creates significant uncertainty for patients’ and insurers’ budgets. This section requires the HHS Office of the Inspector General (HHS OIG) to monitor changes in drug prices and take steps to prevent drug manufacturers from engaging in price gouging. 

Section 203: Acceleration of the closing of the Medicare Part D coverage gap.

This section closes the Medicare Part D prescription coverage gap in 2018, two years earlier than under current law, providing faster financial relief to seniors, and requires drug manufacturers to pay a larger share of the costs during the coverage gap.  

Section 204: Importing affordable and safe drugs.

This section allows wholesalers, licensed U.S. pharmacies, and individuals to import qualifying prescription drugs manufactured at FDA-inspected facilities from licensed Canadian sellers and, after two years, from OECD countries that meet standards comparable to U.S. standards.

Section 205: Requiring drug manufacturers to provide drug rebates for drugs dispensed to low-income individuals.

This section restores prescription drug rebates for seniors who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid and extends these rebates to other Medicare patients in Medicare low-income-subsidy plans.

Section 206: Cap on prescription drug cost-sharing.

For plan years beginning in 2019 and later, this section caps prescription drug cost sharing at $250 per month for individuals and $500 a month for families enrolled in Qualified Health Plans and employer-based plans.

 

Title III: Innovation

Section 301: Prize fund for new and more effective treatments of bacterial infections.

This section creates a $2 billion prize fund at the National Institutes of Health to fund entities that develop superior antibiotics that treat serious and life-threatening bacterial infections and to fund research that advances such treatments and is made publicly available. In order to receive prize funds, recipients must commit to offering their products at a reasonable price, share clinical data, and take steps to promote antibiotic stewardship. 

Section 302: Public funding for clinical trials.

This section creates a Center for Clinical Research within the NIH to conduct all stages of clinical trials on drugs that may address an existing or emerging health need. 

Section 303: Rewarding innovative drug development.

This section amends various exclusivity periods awarded by the FDA to brand-name pharmaceutical companies in an effort to accelerate competition in the generic and biologics market. First, the bill modifies the New Chemical Entity (NCE) exclusivity period to allow FDA to accept a generic drug application for the branded product after three years rather than five. Second, this section would add in a requirement that products awarded the 3-year New Clinical Investigation Exclusivity must show significant clinical benefit over existing therapies manufactured by the applicant in the 5-year period preceding the submission of the application. Third, this section reduces the biological product exclusivity from 12 years to 7 years. 

Section 304: Improving program integrity.

This section would terminate any remaining market exclusivity periods on any product found to be in violation of criminal or civil law through a federal or state fraud conviction or settlement in which the company admits fault.

 

Title IV: Choice and Competition

Section 401: Preserving access to affordable generics.

This legislation would make it illegal for brand-name and generic drug manufacturers to enter into anti-competitive agreements in which the brand-name drug manufacturer pays the generic manufacturer to keep more affordable generic equivalents off the market. 

Section 402 and 403: 180-Day exclusivity period amendments regarding first applicant status and agreements to defer commercial marketing.

This section enables FDA to take away the 180-day generic drug exclusivity period from any generic company that enters into anti-competitive pay-for-delay settlements with brand-name drug manufacturers. 

Section 404: Increasing generic drug competition.

This section introduces new reporting requirements and financial incentives to promote and sustain competitive generic markets. 

Section 405: Disallowance of deduction for advertising for prescription drugs.

This section eliminates the tax breaks drug companies receive from the federal government for expenses related to direct-to-consumer advertising.

Section 406: Product hopping.

This section establishes a definition for the term “product hopping” and instructs the FTC to submit a report to Congress on the extent to which companies engage in these anti-competitive practices and their effects on company profits, consumer access, physician prescribing behavior, and broader economic impacts.

Senator Hassan Joins Colleagues, Advocates for Disability Community in Speaking Out Against Trumpcare

Senator Highlights Devastating Impact Cuts to Medicaid Would Have on Critical Services for Granite Staters Who Experience Disabilities

WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), former Senator Tom Harkin, members of the disability community, and advocates for a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol highlighting the devastating impact Trumpcare would have on Granite Staters and Americans who experience disabilities.

“Trumpcare hurts people who experience disabilities with drastic cuts to the traditional Medicaid program,” Senator Hassan said to advocates outside the Capitol. “This plan changes Medicaid into per capita caps or a block grant system – and that is just code for a massive cut to the federal support states receive…[If Trumpcare passes], states will be faced with cutting services that people with disabilities depend on, such as personal care, prescription drugs, and rehabilitation services.”

“We can’t afford to go back to the days where we marginalize or don’t assist some of our most vulnerable people, so I’ll will stand strong with the people of New Hampshire, and my colleagues in fighting against this dangerous bill that would pull us backward,” Senator Hassan added.

Senator Hassan emphasized the importance of building a stronger, more inclusive society where all citizens can be engaged and active in our economic and civic life. The Senator also urged attendees to continue speaking out against Trumpcare, underscoring the importance of advocacy efforts in impacting real change on a local and federal level.

Watch video of the press conference here.

Shaheen, Hassan Call for Reversal of Proposed EPA Cuts That Would Devastate Americans’ Clean Air and Water

SENATORS: Trump’s pledge for clean air and water is “meaningless” when followed by proposal for drastic cuts that would undercut EPA’s core mission 

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined a group of 36 Senators in opposing President Trump’s proposal to inflict a more than 30 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) budget.

Expressing “extreme concern” over the cuts, the Senators wrote to appropriations leaders, “During the President’s February 28, 2017 address to Congress, he pledged to ‘promote clean air and water.’ Such a pledge is meaningless when the President follows it by proposing a 31 percent cut to the EPA’s budget and a 20 percent reduction in its staff. If enacted, this funding cut would effectively eliminate the EPA’s ability to execute its core mission to protect public health and ensure citizens have clean air, clean water, and are protected from hazardous waste and contaminants.” 

The Senators highlighted many areas of concern where the proposed cuts would significantly harm communities across America—from reducing clean air and clean water grants and cutting enforcement against polluters, to cutting funding for Superfund sites by 30 percent, to entirely eliminating efforts to combat climate change and clean up major regional bodies of water, like the Great Lakes and the Columbia River Basin. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has insisted that states should be the primary protectors of the environment. However, this proposed budget would drastically cut grants that are crucial for states to protect their clean water and clean air, monitor health impacts of pollution, and reclaim toxic-contaminated sites throughout the country.

“We urge you to oppose these drastic and dangerous cuts, and support continued funding for the EPA,” the Senators concluded.

The letter was signed by Environment and Public Works Committee Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-DE), and Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tom Udall (D-NM), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chris Coons (D-DE), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Al Franken (D-MN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Gary Peters (D-MI), Bob Casey (D-PA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ).

The full text of the letter is copied below.

Dear Chairman Cochran and Vice Chairman Leahy:

We write to express our extreme concern over the drastic cuts President Trump proposed in FY2018 funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). During the President’s February 28, 2017 address to Congress, he pledged to “promote clean air and water.” Such a pledge is meaningless when the President follows it by proposing a 31 percent cut to the EPA’s budget and a 20 percent reduction in its staff. If enacted, this funding cut would effectively eliminate the EPA’s ability to execute its core mission to protect public health and ensure citizens have clean air, clean water, and are protected from hazardous waste and contaminants.

As the Senate works to finalize FY2017 appropriations and develop legislation to fund the federal government in FY2018, we urge you to oppose these cuts.  The EPA must receive funding and staffing levels that ensure the agency can fulfill its mission to protect the environment, reduce pollution, and safeguard public health.     

Unfortunately, instead of maintaining environmental protections, President Trump’s FY2018 budget blueprint would simply eviscerate the EPA’s core functions and adversely impact state budgets that rely on EPA grants for environmental remediation. President Trump’s vision for the EPA includes:

  • reducing clean air and clean water grants programs and cutting enforcement against polluters by 23%,
  • instituting a 45% cut to core state grants programs which make up nearly 30% of state environmental agencies’ budgets and allow them to implement longstanding environmental laws,
  • eliminating the Energy Star program, which saved consumers over $34 billion in utility bills in 2015 alone, and over $430 billion since 1992,
  • cutting research funding by nearly 50%,
  • eliminating the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program, which allows the EPA to evaluate impacts to human health from chemical exposure,
  • cutting funding for Superfund sites by 30 percent, making it harder to clean up and reclaim contaminated and polluted sites across the country
  • eliminating climate change research and partnership programs, international climate change programs, and defunding the Clean Power Plan,
  • eliminating geographic programs accounts that provide important resources to clean up iconic water bodies that provide millions of Americans with drinking water including the Chesapeake Bay, the Great Lakes, Puget Sound, the Columbia River Basin, the Long Island Sound, and the San Francisco Bay,
  • cutting all funding for the U.S.-Mexico border program that support cross-border drinking water and sanitations improvements in the southwest,
  • cutting all funding for Alaska Native villages and rural communities that helps provide critical drinking water and sewer systems, and
  • eliminating the Targeted Airshed Grants program, which provides tools for local states, governments and tribes to reduce hazardous air pollution.

This is not the vision of the EPA that Americans support. We must ensure that vital public health and environment protections are maintained and funded. We urge you to oppose these drastic and dangerous cuts, and support continued funding for the EPA in the FY2017 and FY2018 appropriations process.

Sincerely,

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