Health Care Coalition Sends Follow-Up Letter to Governor Sununu on Opposition to Trumpcare, Next Steps

Earlier this week Governor Chris Sununu joined other leading Republicans in opposing the Senate version of Trumpcare, which would take away healthcare from millions of Americans, abandon people with pre-existing conditions, slash Medicaid, and raise health care costs while at the same time providing tax breaks for high income households and the healthcare industry.

The coalition of organizations behind a “Medicaid Not Millionaires” rally scheduled to take place at the Governor’s office mid-week rejoiced in this news, and postponed the large rally in favor of a smaller delegation to thank the Governor and re-issue our request for a meeting or ongoing health care stakeholder meetings. Health care policy advisor DJ Bettencourt met with the delegation and agreed to look at the calendar for a potential meeting.

Today our organizations sent a follow up letter to Governor Sununu and Mr. Bettencourt reiterating that thank you and meeting request, and additionally highlighting issues with the Senate bill – such as substantial harm to people with preexisting conditions – where Governor Sununu would stand to benefit from further communication with health care stakeholders. Here is the letter:

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Date: Fri, Jun 30, 2017 at 1:31 PM
Subject: Health Care Coalition Letter to Governor Sununu on Opposition to BCRA, Next Steps
To: Governor Sununu, DJ Bettencourt, Governor’s Press Office

Friday, June 30, 2017

Dear Governor Sununu,

We are delighted that you listened to the concerns of your constituents and oppose the current version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). Our organizations welcome this news and thank you for your opposition to a bill that would take away healthcare from millions of Americans, abandon people with pre-existing conditions, slash Medicaid, and raise health care costs while at the same time providing tax breaks for high income households and the healthcare industry.

In particular, we appreciate that your letter to Senate leaders addresses Senate Republicans’ damaging proposal to make deep, permanent cuts to Medicaid. Nearly 20,000 people with disabilities and senior citizens would be impacted by dismantling this five-decades long program, harming their civil and human rights.  These cuts would also jeopardize care for 90,000 children in New Hampshire, and downshift enormous costs to the state or cause serious reductions or elimination of services. We agree with you that the Senate proposal would also jeopardize Medicaid expansion and set back the progress New Hampshire has made to combat the opioid crisis.

While we welcome the news of your opposition, we are also eager to have you fully engage in a bipartisan effort to improve America’s health care system. We ask you to:

  • Broadcast opposition to the Senate bill. Please send your letter of opposition to Republican Senators who have not yet decided how they will vote on this bill. These politicians need to hear directly from concerned Republican Governors, particularly regarding your statements on protecting Medicaid and Medicaid expansion.
  • Share health policy positions of your administration. Please provide constituents with a clear and detailed summary of what current health care programs and consumer protections you will defend when it comes to the health care debate. We note that you oppose the current version as proposed by the Senate, but previously called the House vote a good step forward even though you wouldn’t have voted for the bill. Constituents need to know what elements of health care reform we can count on you to protect in any subsequent bill versions.
  • Meet with health care advocates. Please sit down with local health care advocates to have a conversation about the future of healthcare in our country, beyond criticizing the coverage and benefits expansion provided under the Affordable Care Act. Support the efforts of New Hampshire residents to improve our state’s health care system and ensure high quality health care is accessible to all, today and in the future, by working together with us.

With many members of Congress determined to pass a plan which takes healthcare away from 22 million Americans, it truly is important that you work with local health care advocates to fully understand the potential impacts to the Granite State. For example, in your letter you praise the Senate bill for “maintaining preexisting condition protections.”

The Senate bill does not include the MacArthur Amendment which is a part of the House bill that allows insurers to charge people with pre-existing conditions more for coverage. However, it does include waivers that allow insurers to opt-out of covering Essential Health Benefits— many of which are the same as pre-existing conditions: maternity, pre-natal, prescription drugs, mental health, physical therapy, etc. This means that even if people with pre-existing conditions can get coverage, it won’t cover the cost of the treatment for excluded conditions. Instead, patients will need to pay out of pocket. Costs could range from a few dollars for treating high cholesterol with a generic medication to hundreds of thousands of dollars for cancer or a difficult pregnancy. In short, people in this situation will pay more because the Senate bill opens the door to allowing insurers to charge them more—and cover less.

As the American Cancer Society explains, “While the Senate bill preserves the pre-existing condition protections, it allows states to waive the essential health benefits (EHBs) which could render those protections meaningless. Without guaranteed standard benefits, insurance plans would not have to offer the kind of coverage cancer patients need or could make that coverage prohibitively expensive.”

In addition, your office recently supported an amendment to New Hampshire’s HB 469 that would allow New Hampshire to seek federal waivers to provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Additional amendments to ensure that the waiver or grant applications did not jeopardize coverage for pre-existing conditions or essential health benefits (Amendment #2017-2150s); behavioral health care, including mental health services and addiction treatment (Amendment #2017-2149s); coverage for maternity and newborn care  (Amendment #2017-2148s); and pre-existing conditions alone (Amendment #2017-2152s) all fell on party lines with Democrats supporting and Republicans opposing. It is important that you meet with health care advocates and learn more about why these provisions were deemed essential health benefits to begin with.

Our organizations had planned to bring a large number of people to your office this week to call on you to take action on health care, but postponed that action to recognize the first step you have taken in the direction of protecting access to quality, affordable health care. We will continue to monitor your statements and actions and are hopeful that you will continue to defend expanded and traditional Medicaid and to stand up for a health care system that meets the needs of our state’s residents.

Too many Granite State families are watching what is happening in Washington, DC with fear in their hearts. As our Governor, we look forward to working with you to protect and expand the health and economic security of our families. We would like to meet with you before August 1st to begin collaboratively working to achieve constructive healthcare policy reforms and to keep Medicaid safe. Our organizations are more than willing to help convene a gathering of diverse health care advocates including those representing consumers, practitioners, providers, and those with particular concerns about mental health, substance misuse, women’s health, elder care, and services for people with disabilities.  Please let us know how we can continue this conversation with you.

Sincerely,

Lisa Beaudoin
Policy and Community Organizing
ABLE New Hampshire

Arnie Alpert & Maggie Fogarty
Co-Directors
American Friends Service Committee-NH

Carol Backus
President
Granite State Organizing Project

Zandra Rice Hawkins
Executive Director
Granite State Progress & Education Fund

Linda Rhodes
Co-Founder
Indivisible New Hampshire

David Meuse
Co-Founder
Indivisible Portsmouth

Louise Spencer
Co-Founder
Kent Street Coalition

Maria Fitzsimmons
Organizing Director
Rights and Democracy-NH

GSP Statement on NH Republican Governor Chris Sununu Wisely (and Finally) Opposing Trumpcare

Concord, NH – In a letter released today, New Hampshire Republican Governor Chris Sununu indicated his opposition to Trumpcare. Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“We thank Governor Sununu for finally coming to realize what most of us knew from the start: Trumpcare would take away health care from millions of Americans, abandon Americans with pre-existing conditions, slash Medicaid, and raise health care costs for all families all to pay for tax breaks for the wealthy and big corporations.”

“As Governor Sununu notes in his letter, ‘the changes proposed in the BCRA will lead to cuts in eligibility, loss of coverage, or significant increases in state taxes.’ We are pleased that the Governor addressed Senate Republicans’ damaging proposal to make deep, permanent cuts to Medicaid, which would jeopardize care for 90,000 children in New Hampshire and nearly 20,000 senior citizens and people with disabilities. We agree with the Governor that the Trumpcare proposal would also jeopardize Medicaid expansion and set back the progress New Hampshire has made to combat the opioid crisis.”

“We welcome Governor Sununu’s opposition to Trumpcare, even though we are disappointed it took him months to vocally speak out about it. Too many Granite State families are watching what is happening in DC with fear in their hearts. A parent with a child with a serious medical condition, or a cancer survivor labeled with a pre-existing condition, or a community member who relies on the equity and opportunity that life-saving Medicaid services provide should not have to wait for politicians to come to their senses.”

“We call on Governor Sununu to share his statement with Republican Senators who have not yet decided whose side they will stand on. And we ask the Governor to finally sit down with local health care advocates and have a real conversation about the future of health care in our country, instead of simply continuing to criticize the coverage and benefits expansion provided under the Affordable Care Act. With Republicans in Congress proposing plans to take away health care from 22 to 24 million Americans, we look forward to Governor Sununu providing an articulate and detailed summary of what he will support and oppose when it comes to the health care debate.”

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Granite State Progress is a progressive advocacy organization that addresses issues of immediate state and local concern. Granite State Progress works as a communications hub for the progressive community to provide a strong, credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems.

NH Republican State Rep Pitre Says Money Spent on “Black Children and Latinos” Could Close SB 193 Funding Gap

Vote record shows Pitre is no stranger to targeting racial minorities

Concord, NH – Republican State Rep. Joseph Pitre (R-Farmington) put his racism on display at the State House today, stating during a funding discussion on SB 193 that the money (New Hampshire) spends on “black children and Latinos” could close the funding gap on the highly controversial school voucher bill.

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins: “Rep. Pitre’s racism was on full display today in the State House. Rep. Pitre should apologize immediately, not be rewarded with a seat on the SB 193 working group. His views are clearly out of line with American values of equality and justice for all. We call on Governor Sununu, Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut, Speaker Jasper, and all other prominent Republicans to immediately denounce his remarks and make it clear that New Hampshire does not judge you by the color of your skin, but by the content of your character. We further ask that Rep. Pitre not only be removed from the SB 193 working group, but removed from the Education Committee entirely since he clearly does not believe in quality education for all of New Hampshire’s children.”

Pitre’s vote record shows he’s no stranger to targeting racial minorities. In the past he voted for a resolution supporting the Arizona law that uses tactics such as racial profiling; voted to waste taxpayer money and force the University System of New Hampshire to make each student prove that they are not undocumented immigrants, despite the fact that undocumented immigrants cannot receive financial aid in New Hampshire; and supported a ridiculous bill that sought to require businesses to post signs in all six official U.N. languages if they had even one sign in a language other than English. Pitre voted for laying that particular bill on the table, which “politely” killed it. The bill deserved to be voted down fully. (HCR2, Roll Call #66, 2/1/2012; HB1383, Roll Call #69, 2/1/2012; HB577, Roll Call #113, 3/17/2011)

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Granite State Progress is a progressive advocacy organization that addresses issues of immediate state and local concern. Granite State Progress works as a communications hub for the progressive community to provide a strong, credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems.

Granite State Progress Statement on U.S. Senator Hassan Introducing Legislation to Make Health Care Coverage More Affordable for Hard-Working Granite Staters

Concord, NH – Today U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan introduced a bill to help make health care coverage more affordable for hard-working, middle class Granite Staters. Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“While President Trump and Congressional Republicans seek to take away health care from 23 million Americans, real health care champions like Senator Maggie Hassan are seeking ways to strengthen the Affordable Care Act and make coverage more affordable for Granite State families. We need more elected officials like Sen. Hassan seeking solutions instead of the politicians promoting a failed Trumpcare 2.0 agenda that targets those with pre-existing conditions and puts at risk coverage for our families and small businesses.”

“We thank Senator Hassan for her work to ensure all Americans have access to the quality, affordable health care coverage they need to be healthy and economically secure.”

A copy of U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan’s legislation announcement follows.

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Office of Senator Maggie Hassan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Senator Hassan Joins in Introducing Legislation to Help Make Health Care Coverage More Affordable for Hard-Working Granite Staters

Legislation Improves Affordable Care Act & Would Help Lower Costs for Older Granite Staters

WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Kamala Harris (D-CA) in introducing a bill to help make health care coverage more affordable for hard-working, middle class Granite Staters.

The common-sense legislation helps improve the Affordable Care Act by eliminating the cliff that currently blocks many middle-class individuals and families from receiving financial help to purchase insurance through the marketplace.

“We need to work together to strengthen the Affordable Care Act and bring health care costs down for hard-working people,” said Senator Maggie Hassan. “This bill is a common-sense step that will help to bring down the cost of premiums for middle class Granite Staters on the exchange, allowing more people to access affordable coverage and making our people and our communities stronger.”

Under current law, individuals and families making just one dollar more than 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($47,520 for an individual, $80,640 for a family of three) receive no financial assistance in purchasing health insurance in the marketplace. This sharp cut-off contributes to affordability issues in individual markets nationwide.

This legislation would make it so no individual or family in New Hampshire would pay more than 9.69 percent of their monthly income toward health insurance premiums. Currently, 9.69 percent of monthly income is the maximum contribution households are required to make toward their health plan if they make between 300 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level.

The senators’ proposal would be particularly beneficial to individuals aged 50 to 64, given that plans are more expensive for older individuals.

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Constituents to Host Health Care Band-Aid Visibility on Wednesday, May 24th at 5:30 PM In Advance of Governor Sununu’s Scheduled Remarks in Portsmouth

Media Advisory for Wednesday, May 24th at 5:30 PM

Media Contact: Zandra Rice Hawkins, (603) 225-2471 or zandra@granitestateprogress.org

*** PHOTO DESKS: PHOTO OPP ***

Health care advocates will host a visibility and action to call on Governor Chris Sununu to stand up to the GOP health care plan that will take away healthy futures from millions of Americans, including those with pre-existing conditions or in substance abuse treatment

PORTSMOUTH, NH – Constituents will host a health care visibility and action on Wednesday, May 24th at 5:30 PM in front of 3S Artspace in Portsmouth in advance of Governor Chris Sununu’s scheduled remarks at the 10 to Watch awards night. The awards ceremony celebrates young professionals who have made positive contributions to local, social, and economic development; advocates will ask event attendees to help call on Governor Sununu to demonstrate his dedication to, and investment in, the young people of our state by standing up to the GOP health care plan that will take away health care from thousands of Granite Staters, including those with pre-existing conditions or seeking substance abuse treatment.

Governor Sununu celebrated the passage of Trumpcare 2.0, which takes health care away from 24 million Americans, slashes Medicaid, sends premiums through the roof, and puts people with pre-existing conditions back at the mercy of the private insurance companies. It promotes barebones coverage, even weakening protections for people who get health insurance through their employers. All to give huge tax breaks to the wealthy and to maximize profits for drug and insurance corporations. Governor Sununu is putting at risk coverage for 118,000 Granite Staters, including 52,700 people now covered under the ACA Medicaid expansion, and 597,100 Granite Staters with pre-existing conditions. Governor Sununu is interested in Band-Aid political acts rather than real health reforms.

For the past two weeks, Governor Sununu has refused repeated requests to meet with concerned constituents regarding his position on health care. We are renewing our call for this meeting and look forward to his response.

WHAT:           Health Care Band-Aid Visibility In Advance of Governor Sununu’s Remarks

WHEN:           Wednesday, May 24th at 5:30 PM

WHERE:         3S Artspace, 319 Vaughan St, Portsmouth, NH 03801

WHO:             Participating groups include Indivisible New Hampshire, Indivisible Portsmouth, Seacoast Huddle, Granite State Progress, and Rights and Democracy

Note: The host organizations congratulate the 10 to Watch Finalists for their accomplishments, and thank Catapult Seacoast and Seacoast Media Group for recognizing dedicated young professionals in our community. Participants in the health care action have been directed to park at an off-site location to ensure ample parking for honorees and their family and friends, and will remain outside the venue during the action.

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