LACONIA – Yesterday, Senator Maggie Hassan held a town hall in Laconia, following her town hall last week in Littleton. At the events, Senator Hassan took questions from attendees about the opioid epidemic, rising health care prices, supporting Granite State businesses, protecting our national security, and more.
In addition, at the Littleton town hall, Senator Hassan presented Erik Becker his official recognition as August's Granite Stater of the Month. Senator Hassan launched the “Granite Stater of the Month” initiative in 2017 to recognize outstanding New Hampshire citizens who go above and beyond to help their neighbors and make their communities stronger. ?
Read highlights from the Littleton town hall here and below:
By Robert Blechl
Before fielding questions, Hassan, the former New Hampshire governor who serves on the Senate’s Committee on Finance, Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and Joint Economic Committee, gave a summary the bills she is working on.
“One of the issues I hear most about from people is health care and health care costs,” she said.
She is currently looking at the high cost of prescription drugs.
“We just passed a bill in our finance committee, a bipartisan bill, to lower the cost of prescription drugs,” said Hassan. “It’s not everything we wanted to do, but it’s a first step. It does two things. If you’re a senior getting Medicare Part D, it caps your out-of-pocket expenses for prescription drugs to about $3,000 a year.”
And if the drug companies increase their prices faster than inflation, they would be penalized.
[...]And with U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and their colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives, Hassan said they were able to get an additional $50 million in federal resources during a two-year period to help New Hampshire build out its “hub and spoke” substance abuse treatment and recovery model.
When it comes to the economy, Hassan said she focuses on how to help small businesses, particularly innovation-based businesses, and during the past few days has had roundtable discussions with business owners across the state about what they need to grow and create jobs.
[...]Calvin Madlope, of Littleton, who works in the mental health community, asked about domestic terrorism and homeland security and if federal lawmakers are making progress in keeping guns out of dangerous hands.
“I believe very strongly that we can both respect the Second Amendment and take common senses steps,” said Hassan. “So I support extending background checks that currently exist so when you buy a gun online or at a gun show you also go through a background check. I also believe we have to get weapons of war off the street. When think about the numbers of deaths and injuries caused by these guns in an incredibly short amount of time it is outrageous.”
[...]Kristy Letendre, director of the Clinical Services Division at Tri-County Community Action Program, thanked Hassan for the funding she was able to help secure to combat the opioid epidemic.
“You have enabled us to start working to build a robust system that will actually produce some really good outcomes and save lives,” said Letendre.
But recovery housing and program sustainability are challenges, said Letendre.
[Hassan] took a question regarding trade and the tariffs the administration of Pres. Donald Trump has levied on China and the trade war between the two nations.
“International trade done right is important to our businesses, to our economy, and we want to be sure it’s done in such a way that supports our businesses and doesn’t penalize our consumers and supports our workers,” said Hassan.” What I am most concerned about is the impact this trade war with China is having on our consumers and businesses. I hear about this all the time by New Hampshire businesses because they have been impacted by any number of trade sanctions or actions this administration has taken.”
There are legitimate concerns about China, such as theft of intellectual property that hurts American workers and companies, but a rebalance of the relationship needs to have a strategy, which is currently missing, she said.
“I am really concerned this trade war will be escalated,” said Hassan.
Ed O’Brien, of Easton, said as a retired person he worries about inflation and fixed incomes not keeping up with rising prices.
“One of the things I’ve been working on with Sen. [Susan] Collins [R-ME] is a bill that would allow small businesses to join more comprehensive retirement plans,” she said. “To your other point, we should have benefits that keep pace with inflation.”