• Advertisement

GOP Pushes A New Repeal Plan

Here we go again!

Once again the Republicans in the U.S. Senate are working to strip healthcare from millions of working families by pushing yet another “Obamacare” repeal.

The newest bill, put forth by Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy, would repeal the Affordable Care Act, decimating the Medicaid expansion program, leaving and estimated 32 million people without healthcare.

Overall the right-wing plan would cut $229 billion dollars eliminating the healthcare exchange subsidies and the funding allotted for the expansion of Medicaid.

The Graham-Cassidy bill would offer states “block grants” to offset the cost of providing healthcare to low-income families. Funding for these grants would continue to decrease over the next decade until they completely dry up in 2027.

According to research from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, by 2020 the Graham-Cassidy block grants would be sending $39 billion less to states than the current law would. CBPP estimates the Graham-Cassidy bill would slash $179 billion from healthcare funding by 2026.

Andy Slavitt, President Obama’s former director of Medicare, sent out this image, highlighting the massive cuts if the Graham-Cassidy bill goes through.

In a September 8th editorial board meeting with Seacoast Online, Governor Chris Sununu said he was “very excited” about the newest Graham-Cassidy Trumpcare bill that he claims to have helped create with Republican governors across the country. Sununu had high praise for the legislation saying it “really takes into account a lot of the things that governors are looking for.” (Sununu now says he opposed the bill. See update below) 

However, Republican Governor Charlie Baker of neighboring Massachusetts said the bill would “dramatically negatively affect the Commonwealth.”

“Sununu brags about creating this Graham-Cassidy Trumpcare bill when he should be apologizing for it. Granite Staters will see premiums skyrocket and Medicaid beneficiaries lose coverage because of Governor Sununu,” said Ray Buckley, Chair of the NH Democratic Party. “This legislation would do enormous damage to Granite Staters’ health and economic well-being, and the Governor should immediately rescind his support.”

Senator Hassan tweeted her opposition to the bill by calling on everyone to contact their Senator’s office and tell them to oppose this bill.

“We must take #GrahamCassidy health care repeal bill seriously and speak out NOW. We cannot let this pass.”

The Graham-Cassidy bill would also remove the subsides that allows, low-to-moderate income families to purchase healthcare through the healthcare exchange. All in all more than 30,000 Granite Staters will be denied access to affordable healthcare.

The good news is that right now the Republicans do not have enough votes to pass “RepublicanCare 3.0”. The bad news is that Senator John McCain is indicating he may support this bill despite being the deciding vote against the Senate’s previous repeal effort.

CPPB estimates that Arizonans stands to lose $1.6 billion in federal funding by 2026 and 78,000 would lose the coverage they have gained through the Affordable Care act.

If McCain votes with his party, and Senators Collins and Murkowski vote against it as they did last time, we could end up in a 50-50 tie. For us, a tie is a loss as Vice President Pence would be the tie-breaker as he did with the DeVos’s confirmation.

We must take action now. We must inform our Senators that this bill will harm real working families like yours and mine. We must tell them to oppose this harmful legislation.

Pick up the phone and dial, (202) 224-3121 to be connected to the Senate switchboard. In case you need it, Indivisible posted a sample call script for citizens to use when calling your Senators office.

Republicans in the Senate have till the end of September to get this passed, so they are working hard and fast.  We must stop them now, before they steal healthcare from 30 million people.


UPDATE 7PM 9-18

Governor Chris Sununu comes out against the bill he claims to have help craft.

Governor Sununu’s statement:

“While I continue to strongly believe that Obamacare must be reformed, it must be replaced with something that works for New Hampshire. The Graham-Cassidy healthcare plan has some laudable aspects, including offering more flexibility to states in managing Medicaid. Unfortunately, under this plan, New Hampshire could possibly lose over a $1 billion in Medicaid funding between 2020-2026. While innovative, consumer-driven programs that eliminate waste and provide flexibility is the direction our nation’s health care must go, it is not practical for New Hampshire to craft a system with over $1 billion in cuts to federal funding. New Hampshire is proud of its tradition of not having an income tax or sales tax and remains vigilant against down-shifting of costs onto states that become general fund liabilities. As such, I cannot support this plan as it is currently drafted. It is my hope that Congress will continue to improve this plan to earn New Hampshire’s support. If given the opportunity, we stand ready to roll up our sleeves and craft a fiscally responsible system that works for all Granite Staters and does not ask us to subsidize the health care costs of other states.”

In reaction to Sununu’s flip-flop, NHDP Chair Ray Buckley issued the following statement:

“Just a week after bragging about his role in creating the Graham-Cassidy health care repeal bill, calling it ‘very exciting’ and saying he’s ‘hoping it actively gets proposed,’ Sununu has seen enough bad press on the bill to pull back his support. Graham-Cassidy would of course ravage the benefits so many Granite Staters depend on, including slashing Medicaid by half a billion dollars in the state and ending Medicaid expansion in the middle of the opioid crisis. Today, Sununu reaffirmed what we already knew: that he is spineless and has no qualms with completely reversing positions on a dime depending on what benefits him politically. He is fighting for himself, not for New Hampshire.”

40% Increase In Premiums Highlight Need For A Better Healthcare System

Below is the press release from the NH Department of Insurance explain the massive spike in healthcare premiums, specifically on those who get insurance through the ACA marketplace.  Below that is my opinion on what we can do to fix this problem. 


Federal Government Announces 2018 Rate Increases

CONCORD, NH – NH Department Of Insurance Press Release  The federal government today published information on proposed rate increases for New Hampshire’s health insurance exchange in 2018, showing that consumers in the individual market may face increases of more than forty percent.

“Today’s news about rates is alarming, especially for the 94,000 New Hampshire residents who obtain their insurance through the individual market, but unfortunately, it does not come as a surprise,” said Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny. “A number of factors have led to rate increases for 2018 in New Hampshire and across the country, most notably the continued uncertainty at the federal level. My staff and I have been actively engaged to identify options to lessen the impact on the thousands of families who rely on health insurance through the state exchange.”

The 2018 rate information released today by the federal government details proposed increases to benefit plans that are submitted by insurance companies operating on the exchange.  (The New Hampshire Insurance Department is prohibited by law from releasing rate information until Nov. 1.)  A benefit plan is a specific plan that a New Hampshire resident would select for enrollment, such as a bronze, silver, or gold level metal plan.

Three companies have announced their intentions to offer plans on the 2018 exchange in New Hampshire: Ambetter, Anthem, and Harvard Pilgrim. A fourth, Minuteman Health, also has proposed rate increases listed on the federal site, but those plans will not be available to consumers, as the company announced in June that it would stop offering plans in 2018.

The information published today by the federal government shows that some of the state’s insurers have submitted benefit plans for the individual market with substantial increases. The New Hampshire Insurance Department looks at premiums each year from a market-wide perspective, comparing the median premium for a silver-level plan covering a 40-year-old non-tobacco-user.  For 2017, the median premium at this level was $335; the median premium at this level for 2018 would be $479, based on the carriers’ initially proposed rates.  If these rates are ultimately approved, this would represent a 43% increase between next year’s and this year’s median premium in the individual market.

Today, the Department issued guidance permitting insurers to assume the federal government will not be funding Cost Sharing Reductions (CSRs) in 2018.  In response, insurers might adjust silver level plan rates before the deadline for amending rate filings.

The New Hampshire Insurance Department has taken action in recent months to call policymakers’ and consumers’ attention to the impending rate increases and the possibility that companies might withdraw from the exchange in 2018. In June, the Legislature authorized the Department to create a market stabilization plan, and last month, the Department publicly shared its plan to reduce rates and promote stability in the individual market in 2018. Today, the Joint Health Care Reform Oversight Committee authorized the Insurance Department to pursue federal waivers in support of a market stabilization plan, but without relying on an assessment of health insurance carriers.


A completely new healthcare system for all Americans

The above press release from the NH Department of Insurance shows that our current system of private insurance is unsustainable.  A 40% increase in one year. Seriously WTF?  What we do not even know yet is how much out of pocket costs will also increase next year.  Out of pocket expenses include co-pays, co-insurance deductibles, and prescription costs.  These can cost people thousands of dollars on top of their thousands of dollars in premiums.

There is no doubt that Republicans are going to blame Democrats and President Obama for this increase while Democrats will blame Republicans for failing pass meaningful changes to the ACA to stabilize the marketplace.

But while I blame both of them for failing to do what is best for America, the majority of the blame falls directly on the private insurance corporations.  They are raking in obscene profits, continually increasing premiums to maximize their profits.  Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield reported $1 Billion in profits during the first quarter of 2016. That is a 44% increase in profits.

The corporations are shelling out hundreds of millions to lobbyists and politicians to prevent them from passing meaningful legislation that would help solve our problems.  For example, Congress has failed to pass legislation allowing medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices, which other countries do, saving them billions annually.  In 2016, the health products, insurance and pharmaceuticals industries spent a combined $400 million on their lobbying efforts.

Are you still surprised that Congress cannot pass meaningful healthcare reform?

This 40% increase combined with the insurance companies record breaking profits last year make it glaringly obvious that we need to move to a single payer system.  With a less than 2% overhead, Medicare is one of the most efficient programs in the government. With additional changes, like allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, the cost of healthcare would drop dramatically.

It is time for America to move to a national universal healthcare system. It is time for Medicare For All.

Planned Parenthood: Women Were Key To Killing Trumpcare

Image by Sarah Mirk (FLIKR CC)

In a tremendous victory for women’s health, the Senate failed to pass Trumpcare.

The bill was defeated by a bipartisan vote, with every Senate Democrat voting against the bill as well as Republican Senators Collins (R-ME), McCain (R-AZ) and Murkowski (R-AK), who stood with the women of this country.

  • Trumpcare was the worst bill for women in a generation and would have cut off access to vital health care services, disproportionately impacting women who already face unfair barriers to care, especially low-income women and women of color.
  • Trumpcare would have blocked millions from accessing birth control and cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood health centers, increased premiums by 20% and taken away health insurance from tens of millions of Americans.

That’s why Planned Parenthood supporters have been vocal and persistent in their opposition to Trumpcare from day one. In recent months, an army of pink-clad Planned Parenthood patients, supporters, and advocates organized thousands of actions from coast to coast — including rallies, speak-outs at congressional town halls, lawn signs, phone banks, petition deliveries to congressional offices, and field hearings.

Over the last several months, Planned Parenthood supporters have:

  • Made more than 200,000 phone calls to members of Congress
  • Organized more than 2,200 events across the country, including rallies, petition drops, phone banks, and marches
  • Delivered over one million petition signatures to members of Congress in opposition to  “defunding” Planned Parenthood.

All told, Planned Parenthood grassroots organizing and community support was a driving force in the successful, bipartisan effort to stop Trumpcare and protect people’s access to Planned Parenthood health services.

“Women stopped this bill in its tracks. Since day one, women have led the opposition, from organizing rallies and marches to flooding congressional town halls and hosting weekly phone banks,” said Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Against all odds, grassroots organizing defeated Trumpcare. We know this is the beginning, not the end, of fighting for what we believe in — but it’s a big step forward.”

“It’s time politicians learned that they cannot attack women’s health and rights and expect to get away with it. This Congress — and this country — witnessed a never-before-seen groundswell of activism in response to politicians’ efforts to jam through the worst bill for women in a generation,” added Richards.  

“Women played a critical role in defeating Trumpcare and protecting access to critical care for millions of American families,” saidJennifer Frizzell, Vice President for Public Policy, Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund. “Since day one, women have led the opposition, from organizing rallies and marches to flooding congressional town halls and hosting weekly phone banks. Americans across the country joined the rallying cry against this dangerous bill, rose up in opposition, and never let up.”

“Tens of millions of people whose health care was threatened can rest a little easier today. And the more than one million people with Medicaid coverage who rely on Planned Parenthood will still be able to come to our health centers for care. 8,118 patients will walk through Planned Parenthood health center doors again today because millions of others stood firm in this fight. Today, tomorrow, and every day after we will continue to protect their care.”

“The worst bill for women in a generation was defeated thanks to a never-before-seen groundswell of activism. We know this is the beginning, not the end, of fighting for what we believe in — but it’s a big step forward,” Frizzell concluded.

Republicans Fail (Again) To Repeal And Replace: NH Senators Respond

Photo by Victoria Pickering on Flickr.

Democrats stood united against the GOP ‘repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act” with the help of three Republican Senators, Susan Collins, John McCain, and Lisa Murkowski they defeated yet another bill that would have stripped healthcare from 15 million Americans.

Last night’s version of the GOP plan to reform healthcare labeled the “Skinny Repeal” still gave massive tax cuts to the wealthy, would increase the cost of healthcare on working families, and make drastic cuts to Medicaid and Medicare.

“Republicans released the skinny bill just three hours before voting began. It would have retroactively repealed the Obamacare penalty on individuals who do not purchase health insurance, repealed for eight years a penalty on certain employers who do not provide employees with insurance and repealed a medical device tax until 2020. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that if it became law, 15 million fewer Americans would be insured in 2018 than under existing law,” wrote the Associated Press.

Many are praising Senator McCain for opposing this bill, however the real heroes are Sen Collins and Sen Murkowski who have been vocal opponents of the GOP repeal and replacement plans.  These two women have withstood attacks from their colleagues on the right and still found the strength to oppose these cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and specifically women’s health.

“I thank Senators Lisa Murkowski, John McCain, and Susan Collins for putting the health and well-being of the American people before partisan politics,” said Senator Maggie Hassan.  “I am also incredibly grateful for the brave Granite Staters and Americans who have laid themselves bare and shared their stories over the past months. Without you, this outcome would not have been possible. Now, it is time for Republicans and Democrats to come together and get to work on improving and building upon the Affordable Care Act in order to bring down health care costs for hard-working people.”

“Tonight, I’m very relieved that, for the time being, healthcare repeal has been set aside,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “Republican leadership, through a reckless and partisan process, came dangerously close to undermining healthcare for millions of Americans and tens of thousands of Granite Staters. The American people have made their voices heard and deserve credit for defeating this dangerous legislation. It’s time for Republican leadership to finally abandon their attempts to repeal healthcare and begin working across the aisle to improve the Affordable Care Act. Healthcare is a life and death issue and it’s time for Democrats and Republicans to come together and do the will of the American people.”

“Last night was a win for the American people who are tired of partisan politics getting in the way of real solutions,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “Everyone who took the time to call their members of Congress over the past several months has played an important role in defeating this misguided effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and I want to thank you all. I have also heard from Granite Staters who have faced challenges accessing healthcare through the ACA. I appreciate those concerns, and I recognize the ACA is far from perfect. I urge my Republican colleagues to abandon their focus on repealing the ACA and instead come to the table in good faith to improve our healthcare system so that everyone is able to access quality, affordable health insurance. I’ve outlined what I hope can be the basis for bipartisan conversations about commonsense solutions to fix problems within the ACA and look forward to working with my Republican colleagues on this critical issue.”

Last week, Kuster wrote an op-ed with Congressman Peter Welch (VT-At Large) in the Valley News on their proposal to improve upon the successes of the Affordable Care Act, like reducing the uninsured rate and improving the quality of health insurance, while fixing the remaining issues in our nation’s healthcare system. Kuster and Welch also highlighted how repealing the ACA and passing the Republican healthcare bill would harm their constituents.

After the first failed attempt to repeal the ACA, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter released the following statement:

“Senate Republicans took a vote to rip healthcare from millions of Americans without even knowing themselves what’s in Mitch McConnell’s latest repeal plan. In doing so, they not only voted to take health coverage and financial peace of mind from their own constituents — they also betrayed the fundamental values of transparency and openness that underpin our democratic system. I share the anger and frustration of the many New Hampshire families and health care providers whose voices were ignored by the Senate today. This is not how our government is supposed to work.”

The AFL-CIO Executive Council also spoke out against these attacks on Medicare and Medicaid and called for real reforms that help working people.

“Quality health care should be a basic right in the United States. It should not be a commodity that can be denied because you have too little income, do not have the right job or any job, or have a pre-existing medical condition. Republican leaders in Congress, however, are pursuing an agenda that attacks this principle and undermines everyone’s health care, whether you are covered through a job, an individual plan, Medicaid or Medicare. Each of their attempts, so far, to pass legislation that repeals major parts of the Affordable Care Act has failed, however, largely because tens of millions of Americans have spoken out against their proposals, and because some Republican lawmakers have stood up for working people against these health care cuts despite enormous pressure from within their party.”

The NH Democratic Party thanked Senators Shaheen and Hassan and highlighted Governor Sununu’s silence on the GOP healthcare reforms.

“Endless thanks are due to Senator Shaheen and Senator Hassan for standing up on behalf of Granite Staters in our nation’s capital. Last night, 51 Senator voted to do the right thing by rejecting a health care bill that would have kicked millions of Americans off insurance and hiked premiums by 20% just next year. New Hampshire voters delivered two of those key Senate votes by electing Democrats in competitive races in 2014 and 2016. This should underscore the importance of the Democratic energy that continues to grow in New Hampshire and across the country,” said NHDP Chairman Ray Buckley.

“Meanwhile, Governor Sununu refused to use his platform to stand up for the 73% of Granite Staters who don’t support Trumpcare. Instead, he said nothing. He had the opportunity to join five other Republican governors opposing this devastating bill. Instead, he did nothing. It couldn’t be clearer than it is today: Governor Sununu serves President Trump, Washington Republicans, and corporate special interests, not New Hampshire.”

It is clear that the Republicans are not interested in helping to ensure that more Americans have access to healthcare or god forbid have healthcare provided to them, they are only interested in tax breaks for the wealthy and the corporations who are bankrupting working people.

On Senate Floor, Shaheen Speaks Out Against Republican Leadership’s Healthcare Repeal Efforts

(Washington DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) spoke on the Senate floor in opposition to the Senate Republican leadership’s healthcare repeal legislation. Shaheen stressed that the Republican leadership’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act would take health insurance from thousands of Granite Staters, is opposed by an overwhelming majority of stakeholder groups, and has been done without any public input from the American people. “Make no mistake, every bill proposed by the Republican leadership has been designed as a bullet to the heart of the Affordable Care Act. Republican proposals will collapse the individual marketplaces, make it impossible to provide affordable coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, and take health coverage away from up to 32 million Americans, including the most vulnerable.”

Shaheen also highlighted Senator John McCain’s recent floor remarks calling for bipartisanship saying, “We need to work together to build on the strengths of the Affordable Care Act, which has dramatically reduced the number of uninsured Americans and has given us valuable tools for fighting the opioid epidemic, which is ravishing so many communities in America. This is the best way forward for both the Senate and our country.”

Shaheen urged her Senate colleagues to listen “to the great majority of our constituents… Instead of legislation to take healthcare away from people, it’s time for an inclusive, bipartisan approach to provide quality, affordable healthcare for every American.”

In Exeter, Senator Hassan Talks About Opposition To Trumpcare

Senator Hassan Visits Exeter Hospital, Joins Medical Professionals to Discuss Need for Bipartisan Action to Lower Health Care Costs for Granite Staters

EXETER – Today, Senator Maggie Hassan joined medical professionals at Exeter Hospital to discuss the need for members of both parties to come together to lower health care costs for Granite Staters and to build on and improve the Affordable Care Act. Senator Hassan and other attendees also highlighted how Senate Republican leadership’s various plans to repeal the ACA would result in higher costs and rip insurance away from Granite Staters.

Senator Hassan was joined by Exeter Hospital President and CEO Kevin Callahan, Exeter Hospital Vice President of Strategic Planning Mark Whitney, New Hampshire Health Care Association President and CEO Brendan Williams, Multiple Sclerosis Society Member Dennis Murphy, and other medical professionals and patients.

“It is long past time that Democrats and Republicans in the Senate come together to build on and improve the Affordable Care Act,” Senator Hassan said. “Without any public hearings, Senate Republicans will attempt this week to pass a version of Trumpcare that will lead to higher costs and rip insurance away from millions of Americans. Instead, we must work together in a bipartisan manner to lower health care costs for hard-working Granite Staters and Americans, stabilize the insurance market, and protect the markets from sabotage attempts by the Trump Administration.”

“This has been a terrifying moment for those I represent,” said New Hampshire Health Care Association President and CEO Brendan Williams. “It’s absolutely unsustainable that we should bear such cuts. This is immoral, it’s absolutely immoral to attack the residents that we care for and the caregivers that we employ, to devastate their dreams and hopes for dignity in their later years.”

“The high cost of prescription drugs is a major reason New Hampshire families are seeing their overall health care costs rise, forcing many patients to make difficult decisions about the care they can receive,” said, Dennis Murphy, a resident of Londonderry who lives with multiple sclerosis. “The price of the MS drug I take, for instance, has escalated $40,000 in the last 7 years. Something must be done to stop this trajectory. I thank Senator Hassan who has made this a top priority by co-sponsoring the Improving Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs Act that would bring transparency to these price increases.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senator Hassan Joins Prominent Doctor Organizations to Speak Out Against Trumpcare

WASHINGTON – Today, Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) joined doctors from the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, Americans College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, American College of Physicians, American Psychiatric Association, and the American Osteopathic Association, to speak out against the dangerous Trumpcare proposal in the Senate, which would harm millions of Americans.

“The reason there are so many physicians here from so many different specialties is because these doctors know firsthand that Trumpcare is bad for America’s health,” said Senator Hassan. “The decision to delay the Senate vote does not change the fact that under Trumpcare, Americans would pay more for worse health coverage, and it’s all in order to give billions of dollars in tax breaks to corporate special interests – including Big Pharma – at the expense of hard-working Americans and the programs they rely on.”

Senator Hassan highlighted how Trumpcare would make things worse for most Americans, regardless of whether they get insurance through an employer, buy it individually, or have Medicaid. The Senator also emphasized how Trumpcare ends Medicaid expansion and makes massive cuts to the Medicaid program, threatening efforts to combat the heroin, fentanyl, and opioid crisis, as well as the health and well-being of children, pregnant women, seniors who require home care or nursing home care, and Granite Staters who experience disabilities.

GOP Healthcare Plan Looks To Strip Low Cost, Preventative Care Away From 13 Million Women

Image by Gage Skidmore FLIKR

As President Trump says, “Healthcare is complicated.” The fact is that creating a national healthcare program takes careful consideration as every part of the legislation effects millions of Americans.

For weeks now the mostly white men of the US Senate have been crafting their own version of the “repeal and replacement” for the Affordable Care Act. Until earlier this week we had no idea what these men were going to propose.  The “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017” is already being deemed a disaster and outright mean.

For women, specifically low income women and women of color, this new bill is a train wreck as it will strip away healthcare providers as well as preventative care options.

Republicans in the Senate are using the proposed “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017” to push their ideological, partisan agenda to destroy Planned Parenthood.  The GOP hatred of Planned Parenthood stems from the fact that Planned Parenthood provides abortion services, even though abortions are not paid in any part through taxpayer funds, and is only 3% of what Planned Parenthood does every day.

The new “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017” continues this attack on Planned Parenthood by attempting to “defund” Planned Parenthood. This Republican talking point has become a staple for many Congressional Republicans even though they do not seem to grasp exactly what Planned Parenthood actually does.

Congress wants to “defund” Planned Parenthood by refusing to fund them with money from the federal budget, when in fact Planned Parenthood is not a budgetary item that can be removed.  Planned Parenthood is a medical service provider, like any other doctor’s office or hospital, and receives an insurance reimbursement through Medicaid.

Over 2.4 million women a year visit Planned Parenthood for their preventative health care services at little to no cost to the patient.  Nearly 1 in 5 women have utilized the services provided by Planned Parenthood. This is 97% of what Planned Parenthood does: annual exams, birth control, cancer screenings, and disease testing and treatment.  Once again, in case it was not clear before, Medicaid cannot reimburse patients for abortion services except in the cases of rape, incest, or the life of the mother is in danger.

“This bill would be a disaster for women. It prevents patients who rely on Medicaid from accessing care from their established and trusted provider including annual exams, birth control, cancer screenings, and STI testing and treatment,” said Kayla Montgomery, Director of Advocacy and Organizing for Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund. “It reduces access to no-cost preventive services, including birth control. In addition to “defunding” Planned Parenthood and slashing Medicaid; the Senate bill guts Essential Health Benefit protections, including maternity coverage and prescription drugs.  This bill would disproportionately impact women who already face unfair barriers to care, including low-income women and women of color.”

The new “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017” further diminishes care for 13 million women, the majority are low income and women of color, as the proposed legislation repeals maternity coverage and prescription drugs like birth control pills.  These cuts have been opposed by the American Public Health Association, the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

As if the Republican healthcare plan was not unpopular enough already, taking away women’s access to Planned Parenthood health centers is completely against the will of the people.  Polling from Quinnipiac shows that 80% of voters oppose “defunding” Planned Parenthood and blocking access to Planned Parenthood health centers.

Yesterday, Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan held an emergancy field hearing on the newly released, “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017,” at the University of New Hampshire School of Law.

At the hearing, Planned Parenthood advocate Ruthie Redmond praised both Senators Shaheen and Hassan for their commitment to the life-saving and life-changing health care provided at Planned Parenthood health centers. With such strong support for stopping Trumpcare from the federal delegation, patient advocates expressed disappointment in New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, and his silence thus far during the healthcare debate.

During the event, Planned Parenthood patient Ruthie Redmond called on Governor Sununu to stand up for women. “Sununu’s tepid support for the AHCA and his silence on the devastating impact of defunding Planned Parenthood leads me to believe he’s quickly forgotten the campaign promise he made to the women of this state – to “stand up to his party and protect access to women’s health,” said Ruthie Redmond, of Manchester, NH.

“We thank Senators Shaheen and Hassan for being champions for women’s health in the US Senate, and always standing up for the 11,000 NH patients who rely on Planned Parenthood’s services. In order to keep Granite State women and families healthy, we must all work together to stop this dangerous bill,” added Montgomery.

We must make our voices heard and stand in opposition to the ideological, partisan attacks on the premier low-cost health care provider in the country.  Call your Senators today (202-224-3121) and tell them to oppose the “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017” and that you specifically oppose the cuts to Planned Parenthood.

NH Elected Officials, Seniors Group, And Labor Unions Speak Out Against Senate Version Of Trumpcare

By now you have probably heard about the Senate Republicans plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with a terrible new bill called the “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017“.

The text of the “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017” was released yesterday and it is worse that we thought it would be.  ThinkProgress laid out some of the details in their post last night.  Here are a couple of the top issues with the new legislation from ThinkProgress.

  • The bill would strip health care coverage from millions of low income Americans by rolling back the expansion of Medicaid — and then making even deeper cuts.
  • The bill would follow the Obamacare subsidy model, but help fewer people.  Subsidies would only be available to those making 350% of poverty instead of the ACA’s 400%
  • The Senate bill is a massive tax cut for the rich. Rolling back taxes on those who make $200,000 a year.
  • The bill will mean higher out-of-pocket medical costs for many people with insurance.
  • The bill will seek to limit the ability of insurers to provide coverage for abortions.
  • The bill will hit older Americans especially hard. Rates for older Americans raise astronomically, making healthcare completely unaffordable.

New Hampshire’s elected leaders are speaking out against this new GOP plan.

“The Senate Republican’s secretive healthcare repeal bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing that would be devastating to the health of Granite Staters,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “If passed, it would mean less coverage for fewer people at higher costs, all while giving a tax cut to the wealthy. It would significantly cut Medicaid and the program’s expansion, hurting our state’s response to the opioid epidemic, place an age tax on New Hampshire seniors, and take aim at women’s health by defunding Planned Parenthood, which provides vital healthcare services to more than 12,000 Granite State women. Taken together, this is a bad deal for New Hampshire and a bad deal for the American people. I will do everything that I can to fight it, which is why I am holding an emergency field hearing in Concord tomorrow with Senator Hassan to hear directly from Granite Staters. I will also continue to urge my Republican colleagues to work across the aisle to make needed fixes to the Affordable Care Act, not repeal it, so that more Americans have affordable, accessible healthcare.”

“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans took the House Trumpcare bill, which even President Trump admitted was ‘mean,’ and managed to make it even more heartless,” said Senator Maggie Hassan. “Under the Senate Trumpcare bill, if you buy your own insurance, you could have to pay more for your coverage. You could face an age tax, which would be especially harmful if you are between the ages of 50 and 64. And you could see states undermine the requirement that insurance companies must cover the most important services.

“The Senate Trumpcare bill also ends Medicaid expansion and makes even deeper cuts to the Medicaid program than the House bill, jeopardizing care for tens of thousands of Granite Staters including children, people struggling with addiction, seniors in nursing or at-home care, and people who experience disabilities. Trumpcare also fulfills Washington Republicans’ partisan agenda of defunding Planned Parenthood.

“There is no doubt that the Affordable Care Act needs to be improved, but Trumpcare would make things worse for most Americans – whether they currently get their insurance through their employer, buy it privately, buy it through the exchange or have Medicaid. Trumpcare would raise costs, take away coverage, and hurt people across New Hampshire, all to give billions of dollars in tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. I will do everything in my power to stop this devastating Trumpcare bill from ever becoming law, and I urge all Granite Staters to continue telling your stories and making your voices heard about how harmful this bill would be for you,” concluded Hassan.

Senator Shaheen and Senator Hassan are holding an emergancy field hearing on the Senate version of Trumpcare, today June 23rd, at 2pm, at the UNH School of Law. (More info here)

“Senate Republicans have crafted a cruel healthcare bill behind closed doors that would threaten access to healthcare for thousands of Granite Staters and millions of Americans,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “This misguided legislation would be a disaster for hardworking families in New Hampshire and cannot be allowed to become law. I’m eager to work across the aisle to repair, not repeal the Affordable Care Act. There are members of Congress, both Republican and Democrat, who want to work in a bipartisan way to make constructive improvements to the Affordable Care Act to expand access to care and lower costs. It’s long past time Republican leadership abandon its single-minded focus on repealing the Affordable Care Act and instead got down to the hard work of actually improving our healthcare delivery system for all Americans.”

“I am appalled by today’s Senate Republican healthcare repeal bill,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. “Like the House bill I vehemently opposed, it would kick millions off their coverage, charge older Americans more, and leave people who have pre-existing conditions without coverage for the care they need. The bills don’t stop at repealing the Affordable Care Act – they also end Medicaid expansion and drastically reduce funding for Medicaid. Ending Medicaid as we know it would set our state back in the fight against the heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioid crisis and put millions of kids, seniors in nursing homes, and people with disabilities at risk of losing their care.

“Senate Republicans know the majority of Americans oppose their plan, so they wrote it in secret sessions and are now trying to rush it to a vote next week. Every person in New Hampshire who gets health coverage through the individual market, Medicaid, or the New Hampshire Health Protection Program will be affected by this bill if it passes. Even people with coverage through their employer aren’t protected because states could strip back requirements that plans cover essential benefits like hospitalization, prescription drugs, or maternity care. Over the coming days, we must all speak out and make our voices heard,” Shea-Porter added.

The Alliance for Retired Americans represents over 4 million older Americans and “stand fervently against this legislation” calling the legislation as “mean” as the House version of Trumpcare.

“We all heard President Trump say he hoped the Senate version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) would be less ‘mean’ than the House version. Today, we finally got to see the secret Senate version, and it is still ‘mean’ by any reasonable test,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “No wonder Majority Leader McConnell hid this dangerous plan for so long. It will cause harm to millions of older Americans, all for the sake of tax breaks for the wealthy.

“The Senate bill decimates Medicaid. In this respect, it is worse than the House bill, enacting even deeper long-term cuts. Medicaid covers long-term care for millions of seniors and health care for people with disabilities, making this bill devastating to older and vulnerable Americans. President Trump promised on the campaign trail that he would not cut Medicaid and Medicare. He should promise to veto a bill that does not keep that promise.”

“The 4.4 million members of the Alliance for Retired Americans stand fervently against this legislation and urge senators to vote ‘no’ for the sake of seniors, the disabled and millions of working families,” Fiesta concluded.

Labor unions were quick to point out how terrible this legislation would be for working people across the country.

“The Senate’s bill follows the same failed approach as the House-passed bill. It would deny health care coverage to millions of Americans in order to lavish huge tax cuts on corporations and the wealthiest 1 percent,” said David Cox, President of the American Federation of Government Employees National, that represents over 700,000 workers. “The Senate may have written its health care bill behind closed doors, but the harmful effects this bill would have on millions of Americans could not be clearer. What Congressional leaders are doing is shameful and disgusting, and anyone with an ounce of compassion for their fellow humans should be outraged.”

“I wouldn’t have believed it possible but the health care proposal released today by Senate Republicans is in many ways worse than the version that House Republicans adopted,” Chris Shelton, President of the Communications Workers of America. “This plan, drafted in complete secrecy by a handful of Republican leaders – all men – would leave millions of Americans without health care coverage. It allows states to drop coverage for services like maternity care and emergency services.”

“Many states would be forced to kick low-income and disabled people off their health care coverage once federal funding for the Medicaid program is cut, as this Senate bill would do. The Senate’s attack on Medicaid is even worse than that of the House bill,” Shelton added 

The Communication Workers warned that union members would be punished under this new proposal as well saying “it is a slap in the face to millions of hard-working Americans who need and want access to quality, affordable care.”

“Health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers and of course the wealthiest Americans still would get tax cuts, just like in the House version.  Union members fortunate enough to keep their coverage, however, will be punished with higher costs under the “Cadillac tax” that Republicans left in place. Many Americans will find the cost of health care premiums simply unaffordable.”

The good news is that Democrats in the Senate are united against this horrible piece of legislation, but Republicans should also be outraged at this bill and take a stand for the American people.

“It’s time for those Republican Senators who today are expressing such concern about the impact of this shameful plan on ordinary Americans to show the courage of their convictions,” Shelton concluded.”

  • Subscribe to the NH Labor News via Email

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

    Join 12,489 other subscribers

  • Advertisement

  • Advertisement