ICYMI: Senators Shaheen, Hassan Highlight Harmful Impact of Trumpcare on Efforts to Combat Substance Misuse Crisis
CONCORD – Yesterday, Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan held a press conference at Riverbend Community Mental Health, where they highlighted how the American Health Care Act, also known as Trumpcare, would drastically roll back efforts to combat the heroin, fentanyl, and opioid crisis in New Hampshire.
The Senators highlighted that Trumpcare would end Medicaid expansion, which experts have said is the single most important tool available to combat this crisis. They also highlighted that Trumpcare undermines the requirement that insurance companies must cover substance use disorder and behavioral health services.
See below for highlights of coverage:
New Hampshire’s two U.S. Senators are voicing strong opposition to the American Health Care Act.
… They say not only does the AHCA repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, it strips away access that existed before the ACA.
… And both Senators are urging health care providers to speak up during the upcoming visit of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price to show the importance of programs like expanded Medicaid in New Hampshire.
…Speaking in Concord Monday, Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan criticized the American Health Care Act for its elimination of the Medicaid expansion program.
As Governor, Hassan helped usher in Medicaid expansion, which has enrolled more than 50,000 low-income residents in the state. Advocates say it's been a key way for people with substance abuse issues to receive treatment.
“In the midst of this crisis, we should be ensuring that those seeking help can get the care that they need, and rolling back critical protections is truly unconscionable,” said Hassan.
The ACHA, which the Senators referred to as ‘Trumpcare,’ would open the door for insurers to charge more for people with pre-existing conditions. The plan also changes the structure of subsidies meant to bring down the cost of premiums, resulting in larger benefits for younger Americans, but more expensive policies for older residents.
…Both Hassan and Shaheen encouraged Granite Staters to speak up in support of the Affordable Care Act, including attending this Wednesday’s scheduled event in New Hampshire with Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services.
…New Hampshire’s Democratic Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen said Monday it’s too early to tell what will be in the Senate bill. However, they made it clear they oppose any effort to repeal the existing health care law.
“I think the right approach is to go back to the Affordable Care Act, a system that we have in place,” Shaheen said. “To work across the aisle, and stop saying we’re going to repeal it and take away health care from tens of millions of Americans.”
…Shaheen and Hassan focused on how the bill could impact New Hampshire’s opioid crisis, including by reversing a rule that insurers must cover mental health and substance misuse disorder services and rolling back expanded Medicaid, ending the program by 2020.
… The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates the American Health Care Act would cause 14 million people to lose coverage through Medicaid by 2026. The bill has already earned swift rebukes from health providers in New Hampshire. The New Hampshire Hospital Association called the legislation “deeply disappointing” and a “significant step backwards.”
On Monday, Shaheen and Hassan called on Granite Staters to share their stories of how they’ve been impacted by substance abuse, ahead of a Wednesday visit by U.S. Secretary for Health and Human Services Tom Price.
“I think the people of New Hampshire need to take this opportunity to talk to both Secretary Price and Gov. Sununu about their experiences, but in particular, how it is that they developed a substance use disorder,” Hassan said.
Four days after the Republican majority in the House passed legislation aimed at repealing and replacing Obamacare, New Hampshire’s two Democratic U.S. senators were in the Granite State to preview what might happen to the bill in the Senate and to argue for alternatives.
Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan said provisions in the Republican bill, known as the American Health Care Act, could mean the end of Medicaid expansion and substance abuse treatment that New Hampshire has come to rely on, particularly in regard to the opioid addiction crisis.
Shaheen also said she was concerned that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already appointed a group of senators to work on the Senate version of the bill, and there are no women senators on board.
“Even though a significant piece of the Affordable Care Act and health care have to do with women’s reproductive health, he hasn’t appointed any of the Republican women to work on this, so I’m very concerned about that,” she said. At least one Republican senator, Susan Collins of Maine, has already spoken out against the bill, Shaheen said, as have others.
… Both senators said they were willing to work with Republicans to improve Obamacare, but believe that the existing law should serve as the foundation for reform.
“There are improvements to be made, for sure, including lowering the cost of prescription drugs, but our focus shouldn’t be on Democratic or Republican,” said Hassan. “It should be on improving the health care system to serve the American people. The process will unfold in the Senate, but that’s what the focus should be on.”
The two senators were flanked by Peter Evers, president and CEO of Riverbend Community Mental Health, which hosted the session, along with Kathy Bizarro-Thunberg, executive vice president of the New Hampshire Hospital Association, and Linda Saunders Paquette, executive director of the New Futures counseling and recovery organization.
All three claimed the GOP bill would be a big setback for New Hampshire’s already struggling mental health and addiction recovery services.
“I’ll stand strong with the people of New Hampshire, and with Sen. Shaheen and with all our colleagues in fighting to defeat the Trump care bill that will pull us backwards,” said Hassan.
New Hampshire’s two Democrats in the U.S. Senate teamed up on Monday to highlight what they say are the “devastating” effects the Republican measure to repeal and replace Obamacare would have on the state’s battle against the heroin and opioid epidemic.
…“If the Trumpcare legislation that was passed by Republicans in the House on Thursday moves forward, it would take a wrecking ball to the progress that we’ve made to address the opioid epidemic,” Shaheen warned.
“What will happen if this legislation that passed the House last Thursday goes forward is that it would mean that thousands of people in New Hampshire, probably millions across the country, would lose the treatment that’s available through the Affordable Care Act,” the senator from Madbury added.
… Shaheen warned that if the bill became law, “it would do nothing short of devastating the health and well-being of the people New Hampshire and people across the country.”
Hassan backed Shaheen up, saying the measure “would deeply impact and hurt our ability to combat our substance misuse crisis. It ends Medicaid Expansion, which experts have said is the number one tool we have to fight this crisis. It also undermines the requirement that insurance companies must cover substance use disorder and behavioral health services. In the midst of this crisis we should be insuring that those seeking help can get the care that they need. And rolling back critical protections is truly unconscionable.”
And senator from Newfields argued that “it’s absolutely essential to the people of New Hampshire that they make clear the devastating impact of the opioid crisis on them, their families, their communities, our state and our economy.”
…“We should be focusing on an improvement plan which can get Democratic and Republican votes in both the Senate and the House and right now we’re not seeing a real effort to do that,” Hassan said.
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